21st February 2020
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SNP and Greens agree on a new budget deal for councils

Shetland Islands Council should benefit from an extra £1.1 million from the Scottish government, according to Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands John Finnie.

Mr Finnie’s party is heralding a Holyrood agreement on what is described as “a significant package of immediate budget changes” to boost council funding.

The party says it has gained support from Scottish ministers ahead of the Stage 1 vote on the budget which is due to take place on Thursday evening.

Ministers are promising to amend their spending plans in return for Green support.

The Greens say that, compared with the plans set out in the SNP’s budget in December, councils will have access to a package worth over £200 million to spend as they see fit.

Ministers have also agreed to a timescale for replacing the council tax system.

This will be developed by a cross-party process starting before the summer. Legislation is due to be published before the end of this session of parliament.

Council bosses have previously described the SNP government’s proposed budget for 2019/20 as bad news, putting at risk the delivery of essential services.

Mr Finnie said: “The public rely on local services such as schools and social care, and local facilities such as sports centres and libraries. Today’s Green budget deal means that Shetland Islands Council now has an additional £1.1 million to protect these services and the jobs of front line workers.

“It’s welcome that after consistent Green pressure the SNP government has seen sense and committed to immediate action and longer-term reform.

“Scottish Greens will always be firm but constructive in these situations. Scrapping the Tories’ Council Tax is a historic victory. All parties now have an opportunity to help bring about a fairer system of funding essential local services.”

SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: “Pleased to have reached agreement with the Scottish Green Party to deliver a Scottish Budget that invests in health, education, our economy and supports local services. I look forward to setting out details to Parliament shortly.”

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