It is clear that, after two budgets in a row in which the Scottish Government had proposed deep cuts to local government only to reverse them under Green pressure, the Scottish Government no longer feels able to turn the screw on local councils and the services that they provide across the country. I am pleased that that pressure has been brought to bear. It is equally clear that, in the face of rising demand for those services, councils urgently need the power to raise the funds themselves in order to meet that demand fairly.
Why is there no mention in the budget statement of the need to reform local taxation? The cabinet secretary did not say a word on that agenda. Towards the end of the local government section in the budget document, a paragraph is buried away confirming that the Scottish Government continues to commit to ending the council tax, but there is no word at all about the timescale or the actions that it will take to implement that policy. What will the cabinet secretary and the Scottish Government be doing in the coming weeks, months and years to give real effect to the urgent need for local tax reform and to put our local services across Scotland on a stronger footing and make them less reliant on a single block grant every year from the Scottish Government?