Budget brings more bad news

West Lothian Council says it will have to make more cuts due to the budget settlement
West Lothian Council says it will have to make more cuts due to the budget settlement

West Lothian Council has warned it will need to make more cuts to services after an initial analysis of the 2017 Scottish Government budget.

The council said it had prepared for cuts of £8.4 million for the year ahead, but it is now estimated there will be a further budget gap of £6.3m.

A council spokesperson said: “The council is extremely disappointed with the Scottish Government’s Budget.

“We called for a full and fair settlement for the council to enable us to deliver important services to residents in West Lothian. Despite the Scottish Government overall budget increasing by £924 million in 2017/18 the Scottish Government has chosen to cut funding for local government.

“Unfortunately, following last week’s Scottish Government’s Budget, West Lothian Council will have to make further budget reductions in 2017/18.

The Scottish Government’s failure to provide a fair settlement will see more cuts to local services, which is unnecessary, unacceptable and unfair.”

The council says it is to receive a total of £300.215m for its 2017/18 budget. The Scottish Government has calculated it can make a further £2.861m from raising the council tax to bring the money available for support for services to £319.057m.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said local services across Scotland will be £240.6m better off next year with £111m additional revenue from increased council tax, while an extra £107m will go to support health and social care.

He said: “Councils will keep the full value of the revenue from council tax re-banding – every penny raised locally will be spent locally as councils see fit. And local authorities will also be free to increase the council tax generally by up to 3% next year, generating - if they so choose - a further £70 million.”

The council spokesperson added: “Detailed analysis of the budget is ongoing and officers are working on proposals which would enable the council to balance our budget – something we are legally required to do.

“The council has maintained a council tax freeze since 2013/14 – in line with a previous commitment. Any decision on council tax levels for 2017/18 will be decided when we set our budget in early 2017.”