Swinney urged to support Dundee City Councilís plans to help the city during the recession

30 October 2009


Marlyn Glen is urging Finance Secretary John Swinney to say how many of the proposals put forward by Dundee City Council to help the city to lessen the effects of the recession he would be prepared to implement.

Ms. Glen said,

" Last month Dundee City Council made its views known to the Scottish Governmentís Local Government Committee in a joint submission with three other councils in Scotland on local government finance. ( Falkirk, Highland and South Ayrshire)

" The councils suggested a series of measures that would help councils to lessen the impact of the current economic downturn in their areas.

" Unenviable decisions have to be made and difficult challenges addressed in the next few years, with predictable consequences for Dundee City Councilís budgets.

" Nevertheless the council has put forward constructive propositions such as on capital investment that would help to sustain jobs as the cityís economy prepares for a return to the path of robust recovery.

" The Finance Secretary now has an opportunity to show that he shares these priorities with the city by indicating that he will agree to its recommendations."

The councils indicated that these included :

*The Scottish Government should consider ensuring that the levels of current capital investment continue beyond this financial year.

*It should offer greater support for affordable housing

*It should provide flexibility to local authorities in delivering Concordat commitments and

Single Outcome Agreement targets.

* It should provide clarification of future grant settlements as early as possible, to allow local authorities to plan for the funding they are notified of.

*It should provide maximum flexibility in how local authorities use existing resources, for example ability to capitalise equal pay and early retirement/redundancy costs.

The councils also recommended a review of the current freeze on council tax.

The council state in their evidence to the committee :

"This measure may not be sustainable and reduces the flexibility to local authorities in relation to generation of funding, and puts added pressure on the grant settlement which is providing funding to local authorities in lieu of increasing council tax.

"Extending the council tax freeze will require additional funding to be allocated by the Scottish Government, which will in turn lead to higher levels of efficiency saving required and additional pressure on pay awards to maintain service levels.

Chief Executive David Dorward told the Parliamentís Committee :

"It will be up to the Scottish Government to determine whether or not the freeze continues. Can local authorities manage? Possibly they can, in the short term, but I think that the word "austere" has been used looking ahead to the 2013-14 financial settlement. It is difficult to see a council tax freeze in 2013-14."


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