The gloves are off as budget meeting looms

The Finance Secretary John Swinney.
The Finance Secretary John Swinney.

There were angry accusations of “scaremongering” over the im pact of coming council cuts in Clydesdale with counter-claims that our area’s old, disabled and ill will actually receive a £1.5m BOOST to their services.

Last week the Labour-controlled South Lanarkshire Council reluctantly accepted the SNP Scottish Government’s central grant for the coming financial year.

As revealed in last week’s Gazette, rejection of Finance Secretary John Swinney’s deal would have seen Clydesdale’s Council Tax rates soar by 48 per cent.

The SLC’s leader, Councillor Eddie McAvoy, claims accepting Holyrood’s ‘offer they can’t refuse’ will force SLC to make around £32m of cuts and savings in services, Clydesdale’s share of the pain, in proportion to its population, expected to be around a tenth of that sum.

However, as the crunch council meeting approaches on February 24 when its final budget will be set, the opposition SNP group has claimed the Labour administration is talking up the effect and size of the cuts.

Indeed, they counter-claim that some vulnerable Clydesdale citizens will end up with better services, thanks to £15m extra funding to SLC for health and socal care, Clydesdale’s share of that expected to be £1.5m.

The SNP group is accusing the council’s leader of ignoring this part of the government financial package for SLC and attacked him for making alarming statements about the coming budget for party political purposes.

A spokeswoman for the opposition Nationalist group on the council said: “ As part of £250 million extra nationwide funding from the Scottish Government to support the integration of health and social care, £15.2 million extra is coming to South Lanarkshire.

“Of that, £7.6 million will be used by the Integration Joint Board to provide additional social care packages which will be required because of the changing local demographics and an increasing elderly population, while the other £7.6 million will ensure that home care workers are paid the living wage and will also relieve cost pressures on the local authority budget.

“This is just further proof that the SNP group was right to wait for accurate facts rather than making overly simplistic and misleading statements as the council leader did.”

However, it is understood that the Labour administration is still angered by the settlement Mr Swinney has forced on them, one complaint being that government in Edinburgh is taking far too much of a hand in deciding what local service priorities should be, by-passing local democracy.