MINISTERS have turned the screw on Scotland's 32 councils warning that refusal to sign up to a new all-or-nothing package of demands will see individual authorities lose tens of millions of pounds.

Following a call to local authority chief executives, finance secretary John Swinney said failure to agree to both a council tax and teacher numbers freeze as well as new social care plans will see a council's share of the combined cash to deliver the Government policies axed.

In all, £408million has been set aside to pay for maintaining the freeze, the health and social care integration and retaining teacher pupil ratios. Failure to meet any part of the deal would cost a council like Glasgow in excess of £40m or either of the Lanarkshires around £20m on top of the cuts and pressures they already face.

Mr Swinney warned the Government would move to claw back the total money given to a council for all three elements if they signed up to the deal but then failed to deliver on any element.
Councils will also be required to make sure a Living Wage of £8.25-per-hour is paid to all care home staff, even topping up that paid by the private or voluntary sector service providers if salaries fall below the threshold.

The move all but neuters the prospect of any council hiking its council tax in the next 12 months.

The body representing the majority of Scotland's councils said Mr Swinney had hit local government with a "draconian sanction".

David O'Neill, leader of Cosla, said: "Make no mistake this is not a matter of choice for councils and this may be perceived as victory for Mr Swinney but it is certainly not a victory for communities or democracy.”

In his letter to the Cosla leader, Mr Swinney said: "Any council that does not sign up to the complete package will not receive their share of theIntegration Funding (£250m), support for teachers (£88m) and the council tax freeze support (£70m). Should that be the case, steps will be taken to recover the latter two elements that have been distributed from the individual council’s allocations in the local government finance settlement in-year.

"If in the event, however, a council that does sign up then does not deliver any of the remaining specific commitments on council tax freeze, social care spend, including delivery of the £8.25 per hour Living Wage or national teacher targets then the Scottish Government reserves its position to take action to remove access to or recover that element of the additional funding support earmarked to deliver each of the remaining specific measures."