Date 14 March 2007
Scotland's local government union attacks SNP funding plans
UNISON, the union that represents Scottish local government workers
today attacked new plans outlined by the SNP for a centralised tax
system to fund local government.
The union said the proposals would remove decisions and fund-raising
powers further away from local people. The union also said that
the proposed level of the nation-wide tax would leave a £450m hole
in local government services.
Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser - Policy said "UNISON
believes local government should have more, not less control over
its finances. Currently local government only controls 20% of the
money it needs to provide services, and 80% is provided centrally.
Financial experts and those who stand up for local democracy are
unanimous that the link between raising their own funds and deciding
their own services is key to having local councils accountable to
their voters. Apparently the SNP want to remove that accountability
completely. Whilst at a UK level they advocate decisions being taken
closer to home, in Scotland they seem to want to concentrate decisions
"What is really happening is that the SNP has accepted that replacing
council tax with local income tax will be too difficult to collect
and will hit working families. So they have now decided to set a
national rate of 3p in the pound and collect the tax centrally.
Not only is this an attack on local democracy, it leaves a £450million
gap in local government finance. This is the equivalent of 10 classroom
assistants for every school in Scotland"
The independent review of local government finance estimated that
in order to meet current spending local income tax would need to
be set at a rate of 6.5%, but this rate will hit working families.
Hence this lower rate of 3%. However this in turn means a cut of
£450million in public services.
Funding local government via a centralised tax means local councils
will have virtually no power to set their own budgets. They would
become simply administrators of Executive decisions. It will also
break the direct link between those who pay for services and their
For Further Information Please Contact: Dave Watson (Scottish
organiser - Policy) 07958 122 409 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)