Time for council tax freeze to end

Labour councillors join trade union officials to protest against cuts to North Lanarkshire Council's budget
Labour councillors join trade union officials to protest against cuts to North Lanarkshire Council's budget
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Labour councillors in North Lanarkshire have called on the Scottish Government to bring the council tax freeze to an end.

They believe the move would allow councils the flexibility to mitigate against the cuts impacting local government.

The call comes as Nicola Sturgeon own poverty advisor, Naomi Eisenstadt, highlighted the significant impact the freeze was having on poverty in communities and urged it to be lifted in a damning report.

15,000 jobs throughout Scotland, and vital frontline services, are under threat, with local government finance at crisis level.

Thorniewood councillor Bob Burrows, who is also Convenor of Finance, said: “North Lanarkshire has being forced to make cuts of £117 million over the last five years as a consequence of cuts to the block grant we receive from the Scottish Government.

“The council expected to have to cut a further £45 million in 2016/17, but John Swinney’s recent financial statement indicates he could hit us with additional cuts, equating to a further £25 million.

“Labour councillors have called on the Scottish Government to set up a local government task force, similar to the one established fight for Steel Industry jobs, to look at this ongoing crisis – this had been flatly refused by Communities Secretary Alex Neil.

“By bringing the freeze on council tax to an end, councils would have some flexibility to mitigate against the cuts getting handed down from Edinburgh. It would help secure vital frontline services we rely on every day, protect the vulnerable, and save thousands of jobs.

“The First Minister’s own poverty advisor recognises the impact that cuts to councils are having on our communities. It is time for Nicola Sturgeon to act.”