Glasgow warns of brutal cuts over council funding deal

Image caption,
Glasgow said it would have to find an extra £13.5m in cuts

Scotland's largest council is warning of "brutal" cuts following the Scottish government's budget settlement.

Finance Minister John Swinney confirmed on Thursday that the country's 32 local authorities would have £11.5bn to spend in the year ahead.

Glasgow City Council said its share was lower than expected and it needed to find an extra £13.5m of savings.

A spokesman for Mr Swinney said claims from Glasgow that it was being held in "contempt" were "complete nonsense".

The Scottish government budget is being reduced by about £1bn next year, as a result of UK spending cuts.

Its £11.5bn settlement for the country's councils is less than the £11.9bn deal for 2010-11.

Council group Cosla has already agreed to the offer which limits local authority cuts to 2.6% in return for delivering key SNP policies, such as freezing council tax and maintaining police numbers.

Individual councils now have to agree the deal. If they turn down the offer, their budgets will be cut by 6.4% in line with average reductions to unprotected budgets.

Glasgow City Council claims, however, that the settlement will effectively force it to make larger budget cuts than it had expected.

Council leader Matheson said: "It is absolutely clear that the SNP government cares nothing for Glasgow, the beating heart of Scotland's economy. This announcement is a dagger through the heart of the city.

"John Swinney offered a deal to local government based on a cut of 2.6%. He has cut Glasgow's budget by 3.6% - an increase of £13.5m.

"We had a draft budget based on a 2.6% cut which was difficult enough, but we are now going to have to go back to the drawing board and add the SNP's extra cuts.

"Be in no doubt they have forced us into the situation where we will have to make brutal and unpalatable decisions thanks to the contempt with which the SNP hold the people of Glasgow."

'Absolute nonsense'

A spokesman for Mr Swinney accused Councillor Matheson of "talking absolute nonsense" and said the Labour-controlled council's policy was "to hit people with a massive council tax hike".

He said: "The SNP government offer a council tax freeze to help Glaswegians in these tough times caused by Westminster cuts, and under the SNP Glasgow receives more funding than any other mainland local authority in Scotland - 23% more per head than the Scottish average.

The spokesman said the cash settlement for Glasgow had been determined using a "distribution formula" which had been in place under previous Labour-led administrations.

He added: "Glasgow City Council has a falling population, and population is the key driver of the agreed distribution methodology."

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