WEST Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) has become the second Scottish local authority to call on Westminster to intervene in a row over the council tax freeze.

On Thursday, it was revealed that councillor Martin Rooney, leader of WDC, had written to Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove asking him to “urgently intervene” to ensure the region “receives its fair share of additional funding” from the UK Government, which is to be distributed to local councils through Holyrood.

Cllr Rooney’s letter followed similar calls from Stephen McCabe, leader of Inverclyde Council, on Wednesday.

Both letters come after Deputy First Minister Shona Robison told Scottish councils that they would only receive a share of £147m in funding – from the Scottish Government – which has been made available to keep council tax at current levels as well as a share of an additional £45m in funding from the UK Government if they agreed to freeze council tax when setting their budgets for 2024/25.

In the letter, seen by the Reporter, Cllr Rooney claims this decision means councils are being “forced to make even deeper cuts than they would otherwise need to”.

It reads: “Dear Michael, you will be aware from press reports that the Scottish Government Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Shona Robison MSP, has informed Scottish councils that they will only receive a share of the estimated £45m of Barnett consequentials from the UK Government if they agree to freeze council tax.

“This condition is also being applied to the £147m funding made available to ‘compensate’ for a council tax increase at a level determined by the Scottish Government rather than democratically elected councils.

“In total, this means the Scottish Government is threatening to withhold £192m of funding if councils choose to exercise their delegated power to determine how best to fund and deliver local priorities.

“The combined effect of this is that there is clearly funding available for Scottish councils but instead of it being used to support local services and allowing councils to add to this by raising more income locally, the funding is to be used for a “council tax freeze” meaning all Scottish councils are being forced to make even deeper cuts to their services than they would otherwise need to.

“I am seeking your urgent intervention to ensure that all councils in Scotland receive a share of this additional funding, should it be allocated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

“I have copied this letter to both the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I look forward to hearing from you.”

On March 6 WDC will meet to set its budget for the upcoming financial year (2024/25) which includes setting council tax rates.

Councillors will be asked to consider more than 50 money-saving options in an effort to plug an £8.3m budget black hole.

Councillor Martin Rooney told the Reporter the local authority is about to make “the most difficult budget decisions in living memory”.

Cllr Rooney said: “Councils should be properly and fairly funded as well as being able to determine their own budgets.

“Our priorities are to deliver for our people and having conditions set on the money we receive means local authorities cannot do their job properly.

“The move to freeze council tax and take away council’s autonomy is restrictive and threatens frontline services which everyone should want to see protected.

“We are about to make the most difficult budget decisions in living memory. The Scottish Government provides the bulk of funding to councils but instead of allowing elected local government to be able to determine their own fate and revenue-raising powers, they have put strict rules on the money we receive.

“This is neither fair nor proportionate and I would welcome urgent input from the UK Government to ensure this money is being properly allocated for the benefit of our citizens and staff.”

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison said: “The funding the Scottish Government has offered West Dunbartonshire to deliver a council tax freeze is equivalent to a rise of eight percent.

“We’ve set out that the £45m in consequentials will be available to councils who freeze council tax, and without the strict conditions that are being imposed by the UK Government on the source of this funding’s use, including the requirement for English councils to provide productivity and improvement plans to get their share.

“The Scottish Government remains committed to working closely with local councils for the benefit of people across Scotland.

"Good progress has been made on parts of the Verity House Agreement, including increasing funding flexibility to councils and removing ring-fencing in relation to almost £1 billion of funding in 2024-25.”