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Budget settlement will leave £20m gap

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By Fiona Reid
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Budget settlement will leave £20m gap

A £20 MILLION funding gap has been confirmed by Dumfries and Galloway Council — as it digests last week's Scottish Government budget settlement.

The Labour administration say a straight cash cut of £12.5 million joins a need to find nearly £7.5 million for agreed extra costs such as a one per cent pay rise for staff.
Council leader Ronnie Nicholson said: “The detailed analysis of the budget confirms our worst fears and that means we will have to find £20 million in cuts or extra income.”
Councillor Nicholson says a Scottish Government hike in Council Tax for homes above band D will bring in £2 million.
And he says the council will have to decide in February whether to raise Council Tax by up to three per cent, bringing in about £1.8 million.
But he said: “The other £16m will need to come from cuts in services.”
And with over £70 million already been saved by the local authority since 2012, Councillor Nicholson says further savings will be a ‘huge challenge’.
Offering his reaction to the local budget settlement announced last Thursday, Dumfriesshire Conservative MSP Oliver Mundell has branded it ‘disappointing news’ for families and businesses.
Mr Mundell said: “It is grossly unfair that people in my constituency which is so close to the border will be paying higher taxes than those living in Carlisle and Cumbria.”
Leader of the council’s SNP Group Councillor Andy Ferguson has blasted what he describes as the ‘hypcrisy’ of ‘rash’ statements from Councillor Nicholson and Mr Mundell — accusing them of political soundbites while council officers were still being briefed by Scottish Government officials.
And says Labour were helped by the Conservatives to ‘rush through’ a budget last year, prior to receiving confirmation of the settlement.
Councillor Ferguson said: “Unfortunately for some of our most vulnerable groups this has had a devastating effect, as the Labour budget unravelled over the year leaving them with a current £1.5 million black hole.”
He also criticises Mr Mundell for quoting ‘people from Gretna commuting to Carlisle whilst enjoying free personal care, free prescriptions etc’.
He said: “Does Mr Mundell not know that the vast majority of tax payers in our region are in a low income job so protected and will be totally unaffected by the proposed tax changes.
“Maybe Oliver can ask his daddy for a nice Christmas present and allow all VAT raised in Scotland to stay in Scotland.”

Dumfries and West

24th May

Lifesavers

By Fiona Reid | DNG24