THE Deputy First Minister has described calls by  Labour local authority leaders for UK Tory ministers to intervene in a row over council tax as “ridiculous”.

Speaking to The National’s Holyrood Weekly podcast, Shona Robison pointed out that an appeal for Michael Gove to directly fund local authorities would see the cash ring-fenced for adult social care.

Councils would also have to apply for the funding if the Levelling Up Secretary heeded their calls and bypassed the devolution settlement.

The Finance Secretary accused the senior Labour figures of “playing politics” and making a “spectacle” of themselves.

READ MORE: Is council tax frozen in my local area? See the full list

The majority of Scottish councils have so far accepted the freeze and funding from the Scottish Government, but Labour local authority leaders in Inverclyde and West Dunbartonshire have written to Gove and asked him and other UK Cabinet ministers to "urgently" intervene.

The move prompted accusations of Labour advocating for “direct rule” from Westminster.

Argyll and Bute, run by a group of Independent, LibDem and Labour councillors, rejected the freeze, instead raising the levy by 10%.

Now, Inverclyde Council has joined them, raising the tax by 8.2% after a full council vote on Thursday.

Speaking to The National ahead of the vote, Robison said: “It’s quite a spectacle, isn't it, of Labour council leaders running to a Tory minister to ask him to bypass the democratic institution of the Scottish Parliament? That's quite a look.

The National:

“But also it's ridiculous – because if they had done their homework, they would have realised that the funding that English councils are getting from Michael Gove from the pot that the consequentials came from actually is ring fenced for adult social care.

“Each English council has to produce a productivity and improvement plan that they then need to send in to Michael Gove that he needs to approve, for them to get the money.”

Robison said that if the Scottish Government had proposed a system in the same way, there would be “howls and cries of protests”.

“I think they need to think about what they're asking for,” she added.

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“Also just the ridiculousness of it, not least that the money that they are being offered, there is no need to put the council tax up.

“In fact, the proposition being put forward by Inverclyde to raise the council tax is matched absolutely pound for pound by the money they will get from the Scottish Government for the freeze.

“So if they go ahead with the freeze, they will essentially be for political reasons putting up people's council tax when there is no financial need to do so.

“And that will be something they will have to explain to their constituents, to the people of Inverclyde and indeed, West Dunbartonshire, if that is the case, that they're putting politics before the people, the council tax payers of their area, and that's not a good look.”

The National: Michael Gove

Inverclyde leader Stephen McCabe and West Dunbartonshire leader Martin Rooney have both written to Gove (above) and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt urging them to step in and skewer the freeze.

But as Robison pointed out, most of Scotland’s councils – of "all political colours" – have agreed to the freeze.

“This is just politics being played out here, and we all see it for what it is,” she added.

Asked if she believed Gove would seek to intervene, with the current UK Tories favouring a muscular Unionism approach, the Deputy First Minister said it would be an “outrage”.

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She added: “I doubt he would. Not least given that the the monies that have flowed from the local government announcement in England, we actually could have not given it to local government at all, but we've chosen to provide to local government and of course on top of that there's the £17.7 million that we are providing.

“So that in total is £62.7m which will go into the general revenue accounts of local government that they will be free to spend on what they want as long as they freeze the council tax.”

Robison added that she had written to Argyll and Bute and urged the local authority to reconsider its decision to hike the levy.

The National’s podcast Holyrood Weekly will be available to stream on our website, Spotify and Omny on Friday.