COUNCIL leaders said they have been unable to set budgets for the year ahead because of uncertainty from the Scottish Government over additional funding from the UK Government.

Leaders across Scotland’s 32 local authorities met on Friday to call for a meeting with deputy First Minister Shona Robison about the budget settlement for local government, highlighting the “dire consequences” of the Government’s current spending plans on communities.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) leaders said a meeting with Robison (below) was an “urgent priority”.

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Cosla resources spokeswoman Katie Hagmann said: “Leaders expressed anger at the Budget-setting timetable which has left councils unable to set their budgets due to a lack of certainty from Scottish Government and as a result of having to wait until the UK Government spring statement before knowing what additional funding could be passed on.

“In addition, there was a clear direction from leaders to seek restoration of the £63m cut to the core local government budget on behalf of their communities and the essential services they rely on, at the meeting with the DFM.”

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Hagmann also said that leaders agreed that the council tax freeze should be on a “voluntary basis” and that the £147 million earmarked by the Scottish Government for this purpose is distributed to all councils with flexibility to raise council tax by up to 5%.

She added: “Leaders were clear that councils should be given full flexibility of funding to deploy within schools, and the wider community, to provide the right support for the diverse needs of children and young people across Scotland, therefore recognising that a wide range of people who contribute to a child’s education.

“Finally, leaders agreed to seek a guarantee that the £45m Barnett consequentials resulting from the UK Government’s recent announcement will be passed in full to councils, also in accordance with the Verity House Agreement, so it can be used to address local priorities.”

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scottish ministers recognise the importance of local authorities in providing vital public services across Scotland which is why the Scottish Budget for next year makes available record funding for councils of over £14 billion.

“Ministers have been engaging in open and honest dialogue with Cosla and council leaders over the challenging situation in which Budget decisions are being made.

“This includes the possibility of any Barnett consequentials resulting from the Spring Budget.

“The Deputy First Minister is happy to continue to meet with Cosla as part of the ongoing Budget process.”