Politicians from across the north-east have welcomed progress on the Scottish budget date being set.
Criticism was levelled at the UK Government after Chancellor Sajid Javid confirmed the UK Budget would take place on March 11, the same day that Scottish councils legally have to set local council tax rates.
However, Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced yesterday he will publish the Scottish Government’s budget on February 6, allowing councils to arrange their finances on time.
He said: “The timing of the UK Budget made it impossible for us to publish our own budget after the UK Government’s without drastically restricting the time for parliamentary scrutiny.
“In these exceptional circumstances, created by the UK Government, it is vital we give local authorities and public services clarity on their budgets.
“That is why we have made the decision to publish our budget in February which will allow local authorities to set their budgets and council tax before the legal deadline of March 11.”
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Aberdeen City Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said the local authority can now arrange its own date, as initially scheduled, for March 3. He said: “It’s good that Derek Mackay is setting his budget so we will hopefully have a better understanding of what we’ll receive so we can set ours in March.”
Gillian Martin, MSP for Aberdeenshire East, said: “Derek Mackay has done the right thing despite the shameful delay from UK Government.
“I’m very pleased with the announcement and I’m sure councils across the country are relieved he has shown this leadership. By failing to produce a budget before March 11, the Tories have shown a complete disregard for Scotland and our interests.”
The UK Treasury previously said “nothing stops” the Scottish Parliament from passing their budget before the UK Government’s but declined to comment yesterday.