Following a meeting of Council Leaders today (Friday) the COSLA President Councillor Shona Morrison issued the following statement.
Scotland’s Council Leaders again today reiterated their extreme disappointment that the First Minister chose to undermine the spirit and the letter of the Verity House Agreement, so soon after it being signed.
Leaders reaffirmed the COSLA position that it is for individual Councils alone to set the level of Council Tax locally without interference or penalties from Scottish Government – pointing out that Councils across Scotland are all identifying large budget gaps and the Scottish Government is now trying to take away one of the few opportunities councils have to plug that gap.
There was a feeling from Leaders that the announcement on Council tax is a serious breach of the Agreement. But there was also a belief that for the good of our communities and public services in Scotland, we should not walk away. Local Government must do what is best for individuals, families, communities and businesses, and that means working to rebuild trust. But that will take tangible actions on the part of the Scottish Government.
The chronic underfunding of councils right across the country is there for all to see and has been laid bare by this latest announcement. If the First Minister really wants to help people in financial crisis, funding councils fairly will save jobs and services, and avoid closures and cuts.
Leaders will give this further consideration when they meet on the 27th October.