LABOUR MISMANAGEMENT “BATTERING” COUNCIL BUDGET

20th February 2019

HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS DIVERTED FROM COUNCIL SERVICES TO COVER LABOUR’S PFI DEBT AND EQUAL PAY SETTLEMENT

This week, Motherwell and Wishaw MP, Marion Fellows, hit back at North Lanarkshire Council leader, Cllr Jim Logue, over North Lanarkshire’s budget settlement claiming that Labour’s Private Finance Initiative legacy and equal pay settlement is set to cost NLC hundreds of millions.

PFI – introduced by Labour – allowed local authorities to fund public projects like schools through private finances with councils leasing buildings back over decades at a greater cost.

An accounting trick which costs councils more in the long term, PFI will cost taxpayers £732.3million from 2006-2037 according to NLC’s figures with the majority – £411.7million – being paid by NLC and the rest by the Scottish Government.

Figures obtained from HM Treasury show that £528.28million is yet to be paid with £2.63 million paid in 2018/19 alone.

After losing a lengthy equal pay court battle with female workers at taxpayers’ expense, NLC has so far paid a total of £127.8million since 2006 to women who were paid less than their male counterparts with £2.6million paid out in 2018/19.

Commenting, Marion said:

“Labour mismanagement has and will continue to batter council budgets even when they aren’t in power. PFI debt has been a blackhole for councils and will hang like a millstone around the necks of councils and generations for years to come.

“Following an expensive court battle to deprive women of the equal pay they deserve, Labour has been forced to pay out millions. If they had done the right thing and stood up for council workers from the onset, council budgets would not have taken such a hit.

“The SNP Scottish Government is protecting council budgets against the backdrop of sustained Tory austerity by agreeing a settlement that will see an additional £6million guaranteed for NLC with the potential of an additional £11million.

“Councils will be able to increase council tax and the Scottish Government is working with parties across the Parliament to look at replacing the council tax so that it is fairer and serves councils better.

“While Labour are intent on carping from the side-lines without providing alternatives, the SNP has and is taking action that protects our communities and services.

“Given the Labour-Tory Backroom Coalition in NLC, it’s no surprise Labour would rather throw stones at the SNP Scottish Government, than acknowledge the root of austerity: a Tory government in London.

“Cllr Logue should be calling on his own MPs to devolve further powers to Scotland so that they are in Scotland’s hands and not the Tories’.”

NLC will vote on its budget on Thursday 21 February.