Ministers criticise budget settlement for Orkney
Ministers have called out the SNP/Green Budget settlement for Orkney, described by the Orkney Islands Council (OIC) leader as one of the “poorest settlements” of any local authority in Scotland.
While both Orkney MSP Liam McArthur and Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston have described the budget as a real terms cut, the Minister for Public Finance argued that this is not the case.
Last week, Councillor James Stockan stepped down from his position in COSLA following the dispute over the budgetary settlement.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament earlier today, Mr McArthur questioned the Minister, Tom Arthur, whether such treatment of OIC “reflects a government committed to island-proofing and supporting our island communities?”
In response, the Minister said: “The distribution of funding through the needs-based formula is a process taken in conjunction with COSLA. Our deliberations in this parliament are with regards to the overall local government funding settlement and, as I said before, there has been a real terms increase of that settlement.”
Mr Halcro Johnston asked whether the draft budget will enable local authorities to deliver a consistent level of core services given what he later described as an initial real terms cut of £317 million (prior to the additional £120 million announced last week).
Mr Arthur responded that while the UK Government had reduced funding for the overall Scottish budget by 5.3 per cent, “the Scottish Government has increased local government funding for day-to-day services such as schools and social care by £975.7million — a real terms increase of six per cent.”