Households across all of Scotland’s 32 local authorities will benefit from a freeze in their council tax payments for the seventh year in a row, Finance Secretary John Swinney announced this week.
Local authorities have confirmed that in setting their budgets for 2014-15 they have included full provision to deliver on the joint priorities agreed with the Scottish Government to continue the council tax freeze, maintain teacher numbers in line with pupil numbers, and secure places for all probationers under the teacher induction scheme.
As agreed with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), the package of measures sees local authorities receive a flat cash settlement for next year when compared on a like-with-like basis with current local authority funding, but with extra money for additional responsibilities, including funding for those affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax’, council tax benefit reforms, free school meals and childcare expansion.
Funding for the continuation of the freeze is paid through the £10.6 billion MSPs have approved to deliver local services across Scotland in 2014-15.
Announcing the Scotland-wide freeze, Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “This is the seventh successive year that we have fully funded a council tax freeze, which is good news for communities and households who will benefit from the savings this brings in a challenging economic climate.
“Alongside this funding we are working with local government to support council tax benefit reform and welfare reform, as well as providing funding for free school meals and childcare expansion.
“This partnership approach with local government is delivering real benefits for the people of Scotland in the face of the biggest reduction in public spending imposed by Westminster on any Scottish Government.”
Funding for 2014-15 includes £343 million for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, £51 million for childcare, and £20 million for Discretionary Housing Payments to help top-up housing benefit for those facing hardship as a result of the ‘Bedroom Tax’.
The Scottish Government will also be providing £15 million in funding for free school meals in 2014-15, as well as £13 million for childcare expansion.