COUNCILS have tried to ameliorate funding cuts by introducing, or increasing, charges where they can – from going to the gym, having garden rubbish picked up, doubling charges for vacant property or raising funeral costs.

Midlothian Council has introduced a charge for removing ‘brown bin’ garden waste. Those residents who want to retain the kerbside removal – fortnightly collection from mid-March to mid-November – are charged £35 a bin (the same charge as in Dundee). The income from the new charge is projected to raise £560,000 a year for core services.

At the last count 28 councils – from Aberdeen, Perth and Kinross to West Lothian and Glasgow – have introduced council tax levies on second homes and properties left empty long-term. Around £40 million in extra tax is being raised annually. Typically, properties which are vacant for more than 12 months have a 100% council tax premium added.

Aberdeen City Council has raised burial and cremation fees, netting £50,000 more, while schools meal increases will bring in £100,000 and a 3% hike across all existing charges is expected to pull in a further £850,000.

School meal costs have increased in all Scottish councils, by an average of 3%. In Dundee the charge has gone up by 5p a day to £2.15 for primary and £2.25 for secondary pupils. In Edinburgh primary meals are now £2.20 and secondary £2.60.

In West Dunbartonshire there has been a 5% increase in school dinner costs, along with charges for public toilet use rising from 10p to 30p.

The majority of the 32 councils have imposed charges for removing bulky items, like furniture or sofas. A booked uplift in Fife is £15, North Ayrshire charges £24 for up to five items. In Renfrewshire the charges vary, from £32.95 per item for white goods to £78.15 for special commercial uplifts. The council also offers owner-occupiers with gardens a yearly maintenance for £225.20.

Increases in leisure facility costs are almost universal throughout Scotland. In Edinburgh an across-the-board rise of 4% has come in from this month, with the cost of hiring an indoor five-a-side pitch at peak times going up from £62 to £64.50. Aberdeenshire has capped its leisure increases to 3.5%, generating an additional £172,000. Orkney has introduced a fee for gym inductions and individual and family memberships covering 12 council-owned fitness facilities has gone up by 49p a month.

Nursery costs in council facilities, above the 600 hours (16 hours a week in term time) provided free by the Government, have risen throughout Scotland, most steeply in Glasgow, from £2.54 and hour to £4.