Relationship between councils and Government has ‘broken down’, says leader

The relationship between local authorities and the Scottish Government has “broken down”, one council leader has said, after he issued a funding plea to the UK Government.

Inverclyde Council leader Stephen McCabe wrote to Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove this week, urging him to come to the aid of Scotland’s local authorities.

The approach, which was echoed by West Dunbartonshire Council, pressed for an “urgent intervention” from Mr Gove to secure extra cash.

The council leader defended the letter on BBC Radio Scotland on Friday, saying: “We’ve got a United Kingdom Conservative Government, we deal with them all the time over lots of things.

On Thursday, Scottish council umbrella body Cosla joined with local government associations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, sending a letter to Jeremy Hunt urging him to  provide “sufficient investment to local government”.

On Thursday, Mr McCabe’s council defied the Scottish Government, voting to increase council tax by 8.2% this year and 6% next year.

The plan, he said, would not be “universally popular”, adding: “But we did consult the local population before we took a decision and, in terms of responses we received, 66% of our respondents said they would be prepared to pay up to a 9% council tax rise to protect jobs and services.”

Asked if the increase could be afforded, Mr McCabe said the impact would be nominal.

“Most of our population live in the lower band of properties, 46% of the population lives in band A, their council tax will go up by £1.50 a week,” he said.

“The average increase of all those who will pay council tax will be £1.99 a week. I don’t think that is an unreasonable amount to pay extra to protect jobs and services.”

The Scottish Government and the UK Government have both been contacted for comment.

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