SNP-GREEN BUDGET STITCH-UP STILL MEANS £10M OF CUTS FOR COUNCIL

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has revealed that the budget deal struck by the SNP and Scottish Greens in the Scottish Parliament will still mean Dumfries and Galloway Council will face a funding gap of nearly £10m for 2017/18 which they will need to fill through cuts and council tax rises.

For the second year running Green Party MSPs have backed a Nationalist budget which will leave local lifeline services across Dumfries and Galloway under threat, and will lead to hundreds more council job losses in the region.

The backroom stitch-up by the Greens and Finance Secretary Derek Mackay also means the Scottish Government’s budget fails to fund a proper pay rise for council staff or tackle child poverty.

Despite COSLA stating that local government budgets needed £545m to stand still, the “deal” struck today only delivers £159m more for councils than the draft budget. That means instead of providing the over £14m needed by Dumfries and Galloway Council to avoid cuts, the region received just over £4.7m but were also hit by additional costs for pay rises.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth voted against the budget as it passed on Tory austerity to Dumfries and Galloway Council, failed to bring in radical tax changes that would have which redistributed wealth to tackle poverty, and didn’t provide any extra funding for the NHS beyond the amount already pledged.

In contrast, Labour’s radical alternative tax plan would have raised nearly £1bn extra this year to increase Child Benefit by £5 a week, give £545m to councils to stop the cuts – including wiping out the £14m of cuts planned by Dumfries and Galloway Council- rewarded public sector staff with a proper funded pay rise, and sent an extra £100m to the NHS- which could have meant an extra £3m more for NHS Dumfries and Galloway.

Speaking after the Stage 1 debate on the budget in Parliament,South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said “The shoddy deal by the Greens to shore up the minority SNP government, is bad news for Dumfries and Galloway.

“The money they claim to have wrangled from the SNP is a drop in the ocean when we know that Dumfries and Galloway Council needed an extra £14m councils just to protect existing services, when 42% of children are living in poverty in the region and when public service workers need a proper pay rise”.

“I could not support a budget which allows poverty to deepen and inequalities to widen in Dumfries and Galloway and will put leave lifeline local council services at risk”.

“The radical alternative put forward by Labour would have redistributed power and wealth, saved lifeline local services in our region, helped tackle child poverty and allowed for an additional injection of cash of around £3m in our local NHS. 

“A budget that tinkers around the edges from the SNP and Greens fails the people of Dumfries and Galloway”.