cOUNCIL tax is frozen but West Lothian will face £14 million cuts slashed from services over the next two years.
On Tuesday, West Lothian Council approved the “tough budget”, but the leading Labour group attacked the Scottish Government for hacking away at their coffers and letting locals down.
John McGinty, leader of West Lothian Council, said: “This was a tough budget set against a backdrop of cuts in council funding from the SNP Government in Holyrood. West Lothian Council has been given £14.8m less than it needs to keep going over the next two years. The money we got from the Scottish Government does not even keep pace with inflation and does not provide anything for the growth in demand for services in what is one of the fastest growing areas in Scotland.”
Labour councillors will now write to Scotland’s finance secretary John Swinney to complain about funding.
Budget highlights include:
nA council tax rent and garage freeze for 2013/14.
nA £197m housing capital programme approved for 2013/14 to 2017/18, which includes 1000 new council houses built across all nine wards, and continuation of the central heating upgrade programme and energy efficiency improvements.
nA £200m capital programme has been approved for 2013/14 to 2017/18 including a £63.5 million schools investment programme, £44 million for roads, street lighting, bridges and footways, £4 million for open space and sports facilities, and £2.1 million for updating children’s play areas
But service charges will be revised as the council makes cuts. Three new charges to be introduced in 2014/15 will be a £1 charge for Telecare and community alarms for new clients, new charges for Pest Control to recover just less than 50 per cent of the cost of providing the service, and a new Trade Waste Recycling Service to meet new waste regulations.
John McGinty added the council’s revenue budget was based on priorities identified in the recent Delivering Better Outcomes Consultation. Full details of West Lothian Council’s budgets are available online: www.westlothian.gov.uk