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Council Leader says budget deal is ‘completely unacceptable’

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Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan has described the local authority’s funding settlement as ‘completely unacceptable’ as the council announced its intention to reject the offer as it currently stands.

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Councillor Macmillan wrote to Finance Secretary John Swinney this week to outline the council’s position ahead of a 22 January deadline.

Councillor Macmillan said: “I’ve made it quite clear that it would be unacceptable for Renfrewshire Council to accept the settlement as it stands at this point in time.

“First and foremost, this is the most significant grant cut ever applied to local government. It presents an unprecedented financial challenge for Renfrewshire Council and requires us to urgently reassess our financial plans for 2016/2017 – a situation that’s being compounded by the unnecessarily tight deadlines imposed.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan has described the local authority’s funding settlement as ‘completely unacceptable’ as the council announced its intention to reject the offer as it currently stands.

Councillor Macmillan wrote to Finance Secretary John Swinney this week to outline the council’s position ahead of a 22 January deadline.

Councillor Macmillan said: “I’ve made it quite clear that it would be unacceptable for Renfrewshire Council to accept the settlement as it stands at this point in time.

“First and foremost, this is the most significant grant cut ever applied to local government. It presents an unprecedented financial challenge for Renfrewshire Council and requires us to urgently reassess our financial plans for 2016/2017 – a situation that’s being compounded by the unnecessarily tight deadlines imposed.

“Several years of the worst cuts faced by a mainland authority have made it increasingly difficult for us to deliver on our ambitions and this is the most significant blow yet. The cuts announced exceed anything we could have anticipated and would have repercussions for people in Renfrewshire.

“We also have significant concerns over the lack of detail to important aspects of the settlement. For example, £250million is intended for the new health and social care partnerships that are being formed, but there is no clarification on how this will be allocated or how it interacts with council’s own budgets. Neither is there any clarity over conditions on teacher numbers. We simply cannot sign up to an agreement when so many crucial details remain unclear.

“There are various options available to the Scottish Government which could alleviate the pressures on councils. For example, borrowing powers to pay for non-capital projects would allow us to invest in change and transformation projects and avoid more straight-forward reductions in service. This is the sort of positive, proactive response we could pursue rather than constantly reacting to increasingly short-term financial settlements. But this requires the opportunity for dialogue with the Scottish Government and, so far, our approaches have received no reply.”