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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-15012: Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 1 March 2018

To ask the Scottish Government whether it would consider providing ring-fenced additional funding for The Highland Council and Argyll and Bute Council in relation to road repairs, in light of their responsibilities to maintain over 7,000 km and 2,000 km of roads respectively.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 13 March 2018

In 2018-19, councils will receive funding through the local government finance settlement of £10.7 billion, compared with £10.426 billion in 2017-18. This will provide a further real terms boost in both revenue and capital funding. Councils also have the flexibility to raise an additional £77 million by increasing council tax by up to 3 per cent.

Together with their increased council tax income, Argyll and Bute Council will receive over £210.2 million in 2018-19 compared with £207.6 million this year, an increase of £2.6 million. For Highland Council, together with increased council tax income, they will receive over £491.1 million in 2018-19 compared with £474.1 million this year, an increase of £17 million.

Also, following the recent snow event, the Scottish Government triggered the Bellwin Scheme on 2 March to assist local authorities with winter maintenance costs associated with this event. This discretionary scheme allows Ministers to make additional revenue support to local authorities to assist with immediate and unforeseen costs in dealing with the aftermath of emergency incidents.

The Scottish Government has continued to treat all councils very fairly despite cuts to the Scottish resource budget from the UK Government. Scottish Government’s policy towards local authorities’ spending is to allow local authorities the financial freedom to operate independently. As such, the vast majority of the revenue funding is provided by means of a block grant. It is the responsibility of individual local authorities to manage their own budgets and to allocate the total financial resources available to them, including non-protected services, on the basis of local needs and priorities, having first fulfilled their statutory obligations and the jointly agreed set of national and local priorities.