Date: Wed 11 February 2009
UNISON welcomes decision on Local Income Tax but warns of
imminent cuts in local services
UNISON, Scotlandís local government union, has welcomed the
decision to drop the Local Income Tax by the Scottish Government
today - but issued a warning that the actual financial settlement
for Scotlandís local councils announced in the same speech by
Finance Secretary John Swinney will lead to real cuts in public
services this year, with even more damaging threats for next
The union says that despite claims by the Government of increasing
cash for local government, this budget will inevitably mean
staffing cuts and services to the public will be lost.
Council budgets are under pressure from the settlement for
A large chunk of the money from the Scottish Government has
been ring-fenced to pay for the council tax freeze, and canít
be used to deliver services.
The budget deal with the Tories to cut business rates will
mean less money.
Income to councils from sales and service charges is dropping
due to the recession. At the same time demand for public services
from local councils is increasing due to that same recession.
Dave Watson, UNISONís Scottish Organiser said: "We welcome
John Swinney's acceptance of reality - that there was neither
Parliamentary support nor a viable financial basis for the SNP's
Local Income Tax plan. It would have resulted in hundreds of
millions of pounds lost to local councils with a disastrous
effect on jobs and services.
"Unfortunately, the local government settlement which John
Swinney did announce today will still have the effect of budget
cuts for Scotland's councils. UNISON is opposed to the continued
Council Tax freeze which will increasingly cause jobs and services
to be cut back.
"A recession is the time to invest more money in local services,
not cut them back. In addition to increasing demand as people
turn to public services to help them cope with the recession,
properly funded public services actually boost the economy."
UNISON is planning a campaign to promote local services and
to ensure they are available for the increasing number of people
who were likely to depend on them.
For further information please contact: Matt Smith,
Scottish Secretary 07771 548997 (m) Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser
07958 122 409 (m)