Council Tax is set to be frozen for a ninth year in 2016/17 after all Scottish Councils agreed to accept the Scottish Government funding package.
The £10.3 billion package which was said to be challenging but fair included £70m for councils to maintain the Council Tax freeze.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirmed last night that all the 32 councils across Scotland have now written to him to accept the package for 2016-17. The news came after lengthy discussions between the Scottish Government and local government body COSLA, which resulted in Ministers agreeing to extend the deadline for councils to examine the proposal.
According to the Scottish Government the funding package will
- Facilitate a Living Wage for every social care worker in Scotland,
- protect the Council Tax freeze for a ninth year,
- invest £250 million in integrating health and social care services,
- maintain the pupil/teacher ratio in Scotland’s schools.
Speaking last night Mr Swinney said
I welcome the agreement of Scotland’s local authorities to this financial settlement which, when taken together as a package of funding, will enable them to increase the pace of reform and improve essential public services to communities all over the country.
The Scottish Government was elected on a promise to freeze the Council Tax while we consider ways to replace it with a fairer system. That is the correct approach to take to provide support to household incomes in these challenging financial times.
My priority all along has been to deliver a financial settlement that councils can accept in order that we can pursue our shared priorities to improve outcomes for local people through health and social care integration and by improving educational attainment.
£88 million is included in the settlement to ensure schoolchildren continue to receive the same amount of teacher time by ensuring that councils maintain the number of teachers to pupils at current levels, including the induction of new teaching staff to replace those leaving the profession.
Do you think Council Tax should remain frozen or should councils put it up to keep providing front line services?