Local Authorities (Socioeconomic Duties)

Scottish Executive Question Time — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:40 am on 1st July 2010.

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Photo of Marlyn Glen Marlyn Glen Labour 11:40 am, 1st July 2010

To ask the Scottish Executive how it will assist Dundee City Council and other local authorities in complying with their socioeconomic duties and other responsibilities when so many individuals are facing redundancy. (S3O-11166)

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

The approach taken by individual councils in delivering on their duties and responsibilities is a matter for each council. For those facing redundancy, local authorities can work with Skills Development Scotland, which will co-ordinate local response teams under the partnership action for continuing employment initiative to provide tailored help and support for affected individuals.

Photo of Marlyn Glen Marlyn Glen Labour

I thank the cabinet secretary for that answer, which I suppose will give comfort to some people. However, at the same time that council tax has been frozen, rents for council tenants in Dundee have increased by more than £300 over three years. If we take into account housing benefit, does the minister accept that the Scottish Government's council tax freeze has penalised the working poor and exacerbated the problem of the poverty trap? What will he do to prevent this cumulative blow to the local economy from increasing?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I find Marlyn Glen's use of the term "working poor" quite interesting. That aside, I think that working households on low incomes will be very grateful for the fact that this Government has frozen the council tax for three years. In contrast, when we came into office, we found that, under the previous Labour Administration, the council tax had increased by 60 per cent. I am quite sure that members of the public will be able to look at this Administration's record and be grateful that, instead of making the same exorbitant increases that the previous Labour Administration presided over, we actually froze the tax. If the Labour Party's clarion call is that the answer to everything is to increase people's council tax, it will serve as a timely reminder of how poor were the measures taken by the previous Labour Administration.