Falkirk Council’s executive agreed last Friday to accept finance secretary John Swinney’s settlement offer.
Faced with a £12 million ‘hit’ if it failed to accept the £330 million package, councillors reluctantly agreed it could not afford to refuse.
Council leader Craig Martin said the “punishment” Mr Swinney proposed to inflict on any local authorities refusing to sign up to the deal was ‘draconian’ - and claimed: “In the face of the threatened sanctions which I believe to be undemocratic and morally wrong, the budget Falkirk Council will set on February 17 unfortunately will not be the budget for the people of Falkirk district but for the SNP pro austerity party.
“We reluctantly accept the terms of the settlement letter from the Cabinet Secretary, but in doing so point out the continued council tax freeze reduces local accountability and severely constrains the ability of councils to take financial decisions for their own communities.”
Councillor Martin also repeated his concerns about the impact the way the new health and social care package will be funded and the pressure it will put on the town hall to pay private staff it will have to use the living wage.
The SNP called for an adjournment before a vote on Councillor Martin’s motion and came back to the table with an amendment which read: “Council agrees to accept the Scottish Government’s offer of funding for 2016-17 as the best possible settlement given the significant cuts in their budget from Westminster’s austerity agenda.”
Councillor David Alexander said: “The council tax freeze protects low paid working families and around 7000 children living in poverty. Councils in England are facing bigger cuts.”
At the end of a 90 minute debate the motion was agreed by eight votes to two.