Committee welcomes greater transparency but calls on government to go further on Scotland’s Draft Budget

22.01.2018

A Holyrood Committee is calling for further transparency on Scotland’s Draft Budget, as it reports today on the budget for local government in 2018/19.Local Governent and Communities Committee report

In the report, the Local Government and Communities Committee gives key recommendations on how local government plans to “balance the books” ahead of further scrutiny by Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee.

Some of the findings of the report include…

  • The Committee welcomes the greater transparency in the local government budget figures in this year’s budget which has assisted scrutiny.
  • It encourages the Scottish Government to consider the calls for further transparency in the Draft Budget figures from local authorities and others.
  • It seeks greater transparency and openness around how non-domestic rates is calculated by the Scottish Government, as highlighted in the Audit General For Scotland’s report on the 2016/17 audit of Non-Domestic Rating Account.
  • More information from the Scottish Government about how its public sector pay policy aspirations are taken into account in its decision on the local government revenue budget.

Housing

  • The Committee welcomes the overall increased funding for housing supply in the Draft Budget 2018/19. As it did in the budget report for 2017/18, the Committee also welcomes the three year Resource Planning Assumptions for the affordable housing supply programme as it provides investors with confidence and supports longer term planning by Councils and Registered Social landlords.
  • An explanation is needed on why the Scottish Government decided to maintain its own funding for home adaptations at £10 million per annum for the past few years. Adaptations can help people to live independently at home.

Local Government and Communities Committee Convener, Bob Doris MSP, said:

“During our evidence sessions, we heard of the challenges faced by local authorities as they seek to balance their books while tackling ever-increasing demands for their services.

“We welcome the steps taken by the Scottish Government to improve transparency in this budget and our report makes recommendations aimed at moving the discussion on from whether funding is being provided to focus on what that funding aims to deliver for local communities right across Scotland. Improving transparency further will help us do that.”

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