Highland Council has given a cautious welcome to the Scottish Government’s announcement of a one-time additional £120m for local government funding from this year’s budget.
But authority leaders have warned that it does not follow that there will not be council tax increases in the region following the commitment of the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economics Kate Forbes.
Council leader Margaret Davidson said: “Highland Council has campaigned very hard for a fairer budget settlement for Scottish local authorities to deal with recurring pressures.
“This funding will help us manage some one-time pressures this year, but it will not close the gap caused by our ongoing base budget reduction and numerous cost increases – all of which will need to be met by frontline savings. . and increases in fees, charges and council tax.
“The council is working hard to find ways to manage this in a way that has the least impact on those struggling to pay, but it will be impossible to fully mitigate given the scale of the challenge.”
Deputy Chief Alasdair Christie commented: “This is a one-time payment that won’t happen again for years to come, so we’ll still have the same issues 11 months from now.
“It will certainly help, but it will not solve all the problems of local government.
“The Cabinet Secretary has given this extra money to stop significant council tax increases above inflation, but that will not stop council tax increases.
“Unless we receive more money for local government, we cannot rule out council tax increases.
“At a time when people are coming out of furlough periods, struggling to pay skyrocketing energy bills and seeing supermarket prices continually rise, surely the government could provide more financial aid to support the municipal services that underpin the well-being of the community in these trying times.”