Page last updated at 19:09 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Council cash agreed amid cuts row

Ministers said councils would get an increased share of spending

Parliament has agreed a £12bn package to fund councils over the year ahead, but the move came amid a row over local authority spending cuts.

Labour claimed local authorities would have to make reductions of £300m under a requirement to make efficiencies.

Ministers said the claim was ludicrous, adding that the councils would benefit from an increasing share of spending.

Cash was provided to freeze council tax and a £5m pot to repair roads damaged during the recent winter freeze.

Finance Secretary John Swinney also said the 32 councils could borrow £65m to settle outstanding equal pay cases and added that, because of a 2010 revaluation of rate relief, almost 60% of businesses would see their bills cut from April.

Budget 'slashed'

But Labour accused the Scottish government of the "biggest assault on local services" since Margaret Thatcher was in power.

The party said that, after survey of councils, some were contemplating cuts in front-line services.

Labour said examples included South Ayrshire Council having to cut employment costs to save £7m, while West Dunbartonshire was considering plans to close four libraries and remove specialist primary school teachers.

Ministers said councils' share of the central pot had increased year-on-year since the SNP administration set its first budget, while it had declined under Labour.

The Scottish government also argued Scotland's budget would be slashed by more than £814.4m next year, as a result of UK government spending cuts.

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