Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday 14 December 2005

Council Tax in Scotland set to rise well above target ...

... say MSPs. The Scottish Parliament's finance committee expects the rise in council taxes from next April to be well above the target of 2.5 per cent set by the Scottish Executive and worry they could rise by upto 6.6 per cent - the latter figure is what the rise would have to be to cover the expected overall council deficit of GBP85m, together with the 'efficiency savings' of GBP58m demanded by the Scottish Executive.

Committee Convener Des McNulty is quoted as saying:

"We have raised questions over whether the delivery of efficiency savings can be properly monitored and over the inequitable treatment of local government.

"We are asking the executive to look again at the efficiency savings it has set for its own departments and at its approach of imposing budget cuts in areas which affect frontline services, such as local government and health.

"It is clear that, in terms of cash releasing savings, local government appears to be contributing 10 times more in percentage terms that the enterprise and lifelong learning department ... and double that being contributed by transport."

- remember that Mr McNulty is a member of the same Party, Labour, that is the major component of the Scottish Executive.

In fact there seems to be a remarkable unanimity between his comments and what Scottish National Party finance spokesman John Swinney and Conservative finance spokesman Derek Brownlee are respectively quoted as saying.

There is an excellent article in today's Telegraph (probably only in the Scottish edition as it does not yet seem to be online) by Scottish political correspondent Alan Cochrane in which he comments on the level of expenses claimed by MSPs last year having reached almost GBP10m. He reckons, and it seems to be pretty fair comment, that such items are the inevitable consequence of Devolution and that those who voted for it in 1997 should reflect that this extra tier of government comes with a [pretty substantial] price tag - the building itself (10 times over budget) and the costs in salaries of the MSPs and all the associated personnel and associated services [thought to be] necessary to support this. Perhaps they might also reflect upon this when their Council Tax statements drop on their doormats in spring of next year.

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