SNP script on council funding “deeply dishonest”



10 January 2019

North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald today described the Scottish Government’s stock replies to questions on council funding as “deeply dishonest,” after an exchange with SNP Finance Minister Kate Forbes at Holyrood.

When Lewis Macdonald noted that local businesses in Aberdeen would pay millions more in rates this financial year than originally forecast, the Minister claimed that Aberdeen City Council could keep “every single penny.” The difference between actual rates paid and the original forecast will be nearly £28m.

Lewis said:

“The Minister failed to mention that the Scottish Government will claw back every single penny of additional business rates raised in Aberdeen by cutting the Government grant to the City Council.

"They will simply take that £28 million away from Aberdeen and spend it all somewhere else.

“Kate Forbes is a new Minister, and I don’t hold her personally responsible for the SNP Government’s failure to fund Aberdeen City Council in a fair or reasonable way.

"That under-funding goes back before the latest SNP reshuffle.

“What is disappointing, though, is that a new Minister continues the deeply dishonest approach of not telling the whole truth about local government funding.

"To pretend that councils get to keep rates income, when every penny is clawed back, is nothing less than an attempt to mislead and deceive taxpayers and citizens in Aberdeen.

“Plans for next year are even worse. Government grant for Aberdeen will be £57m in 2019/2020, compared with £217m for Dundee.

"That amounts to £249 for every resident of Aberdeen, compared with £1,462 in Dundee, and over a thousand pounds in 29 of Scotland’s 32 local council areas.

“If SNP Ministers cannot bring themselves to deliver a fair funding deal for Aberdeen, the least they can do is be honest with voters and admit it.”