Scottish Labour leader attacks ‘cruel and unnecessary’ SNP council cuts

Kezia Dugdale said she wanted to use new powers to chart a different course from austerity.

Kezia Dugdale said she wanted to use new powers to chart a different course from austerity.

Look at the SNP quote at the end of the following passage. That’s exactly the sort of response a Conservative would give, after Ms Dugdale spoke against Tory-led austerity.

Makes you think.

The Scottish Labour leader has attacked the SNP’s “cruel and unnecessary” cuts to local councils as she laid out her party’s plans to reform the country’s welfare system using the new powers being devolved to Holyrood from Westminster.

Describing the upcoming Scottish Parliament vote in May as the country’s first “tax and spend” election, Kezia Dugdale said she wanted to use the new powers to chart a different course from Conservative-led austerity, which she said the SNP was unwilling to do.

The Scottish Government’s recent budget, which is expected to result in the country’s local authorities having to find £350m of savings, was evidence that there was “nothing progressive” about the SNP, she told party activists and supporters during a speech in Glasgow.

Ms Dugdale said Scottish Labour would use the new powers over welfare in the Scotland Bill to help those who needed it, by raising the Carer’s Allowance and doubling the Sure Start maternity grant as well as abolishing the so-called bedroom tax. The Scottish Government is set to outline its own proposals on welfare on Tuesday.

Labour has also proposed paying for public services by raising the Scottish rate of income tax, at the same time as offering a £100 rebate to those on lower incomes so they are not disadvantaged. The SNP has claimed that the policy would hit low-paid workers, which Ms Dugdale dismissed as “shameless dishonesty”.

Responding to her speech, SNP MSP Mark McDonald said Labour’s economic policies were “neither credible or consistent”.

Source: Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale attacks ‘cruel and unnecessary’ SNP council cuts | UK Politics | News | The Independent

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23 thoughts on “Scottish Labour leader attacks ‘cruel and unnecessary’ SNP council cuts

  1. Joan Edington

    The problem with Kezza’s 1p tax rise is that Scotland will not have the ability to vary tax bands until 2017. If tax is raised it will be the same for everyone. When this was pointed out to her, she came up with the idea of the £100 “rebate” fo the lower-paid.

    I believe there are a couple of issues with that.

    1. I don’t think Scotland is allowed to give tax rebates; I’m fairly sure that is reserved.
    2. If the money is given to people as anything else, it will itself be taxable income, thereby possibly pushing people into having their Universal Benefits cut.

    It sounds like a great idea but not very practicable in the short term. Labour have homed in on the Local Council cuts without looking at the wider picture. Surely this couldn’t be because they still run some Scottish Councils and want to keep them?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I’m fairly sure that tax rebates come along with tax raising. Holyrood will be able to provide tax credits.

  2. mohandeer

    So Corbynomics, which is the reason I am now a confirmed Corbynite, is not credible or consistent? OK, so how are Holyrood going to fund their opposition to austerity, with upping everyone’s taxes, cos there aren’t that many mansions or millionaires up in Scotland. How very original, that’ll get the Labour voters rushing to support them. It does however, prove the Tories correct in the choices voters face, austerity under Tories or high taxes under Labour. The very thing Corbynomics is trying to reduce by tackling the problem of redistributing the wealth and taxation in England. Not something they can actually do in Scotland or from Holyrood.

  3. brian mcneill

    So why don’t the councils use their surplus then? Or lay off loads of those executives on £100k plus a year? GCC has I think 32 of these alone!

      1. brian mcneill

        anyways GCC which has been labour controlled for far too long is a cesspit of corruption so getting rid of that shower in 2017 will be very welcome

      2. Joan Edington

        We’ve been here before Mike. The Scottish Governmenrt has paid the local councils the amount they would have had their council tax inciome raised by, RPI rate, every year it has been frozen. You can argue that it is not a good policy but the Local Councils can’t use it as an excuse for their shortfalls. There have been other cuts of around 1% but many of these councils waste what they do get.

        My own council, for example is one. The Borders Railway was re-instated last year, where it passes my town and ends up in the middle of nowhere, across from an industrial estate. This is supposed to attract tourists? There is also a rather nice piece of artwork called pompously “the great tapestry of Scotland”. There was talk about it being housed in a new visitor centre at the end of the line, subject to a satisfactory business case. The council simply assumed that the case would be made and have set aside £3.5m, to be backed by £2.5m from the government if the case is made. They have even gone ahead and cut down a large area of popular woodland to make room. The business case is looking rather wobbly.

        If it does go ahead, the council’s taxpayers will not only be lumbered with the initial £3.5m (£6m if they have to foot the entire bill) but also £200,000 per annum loan re-payments for 30 years (on the £2.5m only; could be higher).

        The council held a public consultation about where people thought they ought to make savings in their budget. Top of the list by miles was this new visitor centre. Of course we, the public, have been ignored as usual.

        Nobody really has anything against the tapestry, which I believe is very good, but when towns on the rail route, like mine, are crying out for investment and have numerous empty properties that could be converted at a fraction of the cost, in places that visitors might actually have something else to do, we find the council waste beggars belief.

      3. Mike Sivier Post author

        Sorry but I’m not buying your argument. Raising a council’s income by even the higher rate of inflation doesn’t take account of extra demands being placed on them – and you yourself admit there have been cuts that mitigate the rise you suggest.
        The Borders Railway, connecting Edinburgh with Tweedbank, is a Scottish Government project.
        The tapestry is a charity and should by rights be expected to raise its own money. You should take up this issue with your council.

    1. Michael Broadhurst

      quite agree Brian Mcneill these 100k salaries + in local government want abolishing.
      no one in local govt should be on more than an MP,not that i’m advocating MPs should get more,the way they’ve —-ed this country up they should get less.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      “A spokesman for Cosla said: ‘It is simply wrong to think of this money as being a surplus sitting in a bank account.
      “‘The fact is that the considerable majority of these reserves will already be committed by councils for specific and planned areas of local spend such as service transformation, creating capacity and responding to severe weather to name but a few.'”
      It seems to me that there’s a different meaning for ‘reserves’ north of the border.
      Revenue budgets are year-on-year spending so, taking the deficit from the previous year into account, surplus across the 32 local authorities was just £15 million.
      That’s not enough to call a ‘reserve’ – and the Cosla spokesman is right to point out that the money will already be committed.
      But that’s just an off-the-cuff reaction to the information in the article, and I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was trying to be authoritative.

  4. Gavin Proctor

    Conservatives have slashed council budgets by 37% in England between 2010 and 2016.

    The SNP is imposing a 3.5% cut to council budgets to suggest that these two parties are on the same wavelength when it comes to cuts is disingenuous. These cuts come as Scotland faces a Conservative fiscal framework that is designed to erode stability and confidence in the Scottish economy while delivering minimal powers.

    Now the SNP isn’t going to raise income tax it would create an imbalance between Scotland and the rest of the UK, that isn’t “credible” or “consistent”. What they have done is picked small pieces they can test like a tax on second properties.

      1. Joan Edington

        I dont know where you got that 3.5 + 37% cut from. English council cash cut by 37% means Scotland’s block grant for the equavalent funding here is also cut by 37%. Scottish Government only passes on 3.5% of that cut to local government.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Joan, only recently you told us the Scottish Government increases council grants by the RPI rate of inflation. Now you’re saying it passes on a 3.5 per cent cut to the same councils.
        Both cannot be true.

      3. Joan Edington

        I think you misunderstand Mike. My earlier statement was not about the general local council grants, based on rUK via Barnett. That was purely an additional amount to cover what the councils would have been expected to gain if they had raised council tax. Basically, central government was taking the hit rather than the constituents.

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        That is not what I understood from it at all.
        Either you are trying to confuse us or you are confused yourself. I’m not getting much sense out of what you’re saying.

  5. Joan Edington

    OK. Here goes.

    1. My previous point on RPI was that the government in Scotland have frozen council tax for years. However, they gave the local councils the equivalent of what an RPI rise in council tax would have brought into their coffers. In other words, the councils got funded as if they had raised the tax but the householders didn’t pay for the difference.

    2. My latest comment was to do with the local council block grant, an entirely separate issue. The Scottish government recive funding for local government, via Barnett, in proportion to rUK. That has been cut by 37%. Cuts to Scottish local councils has only been cut by 3.5%. I was querying your maths, in response to Gavin Proctor, that our councils were having 37% + 3.5% cuts, which is nonsense.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      1. The problem with that is it doesn’t take account for local issues which may mean local councils need more. They face costs which endure above-inflation increases, and are similar to the NHS in that respect.
      2. I was asking whether the 3.5 per cent was in addition to the 37 per cent. Considering the fact that the Conservatives think very carefully about the amount of money they let councils have, could you tell us which Scottish Government services had to suffer in order to support councils? Don’t say none – that would be simplistic and unreasonable in the context of what you have already told us.
      Thanks for clarifying, though.

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