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Little respite for budgets

Directors of education are not holding their breath for any easing of their budgetary predicament following the Scottish Secretary's announcement this week of an "extra" Pounds 10 million for councils.

The money will be shared among the 15 lowest spending authorities. But it is not new money for local government since it has been found by lowering the level of borrowing consents for capital projects and allowing the beneficiaries to exceed their capping limits on revenue spending by up to 1 per cent.

In fact, only North Ayrshire, has been permitted to reach that level. Angus, Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, Falkirk, Highland, Moray, Orkney, Perth and Kinross, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and Stirling have received permission to go between 0.22 per cent and 0.84 per cent above previous spending limits.

Michael Forsyth, the Secretary of State, acknowledged that the decision may push up council taxes. But most local authorities, such as Highland, which has already proposed a 9 per cent council tax rise on band D properties, are unwilling to contemplate further rises.

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