Scotland’s cash-strapped local authorities are pleading with Shona Robison to let them hike council tax by up to 5%.

The country’s 32 council leaders have also called for an “urgent meeting” with the Deputy First Minister to discuss the state of their finances. 

READ MORE: Shona Robison defends 'tax-and-axe' budget ahead of Holyrood vote

The levy is supposed to be frozen for the next financial year, with the Scottish Government offering town halls a share of £144m to compensate.

However, the only way they’ll receive the cash is by agreeing to the policy by February 16.

Many of Scotland’s 32 councils, including SNP-run Glasgow, are expected to implement the freeze. Others, who were planning increases of as much as 10%, could push on regardless.

Cosla, the umbrella body for Scotland’s councils, has hit out at the deadline, as most authorities will not set their budgets until afterwards.

The possibility of a cap rather than a freeze - as first revealed by The Herald - was discussed by council leaders at a special meeting on Friday.

They also called for a £63 million cut to local authorities’ day-to-day revenue budgets to be reversed.

Cosla also demanded that £45m of Barnett consequentials resulting from a new £500m spending package for authorities in England should “be passed in full to councils” so that it can be “used to address local priorities.”

The Scottish Government has previously said they cannot commit to that until they see the details of Jeremy Hunt's budget next month.

READ MORE: Council chiefs to urge SNP to allow capped rise to council tax

Cosla spokesperson Councillor Katie Hagmann said: “Leaders were clear today that an urgent meeting with the Deputy First Minister is a priority.

“Leaders expressed anger at the budget setting timetable which has left Councils unable to set their budgets due to a lack of certainty from Scottish Government and as a result of having to wait until UK Government Spring Statement before knowing what additional funding could be passed on.

“In addition, there was a clear direction from leaders to seek restoration of the £63m cut to the core Local Government budget on behalf of their communities and the essential services they rely on at the meeting with the DFM [Deputy First Minister].

“Leaders also agreed that the council tax freeze should be on a voluntary basis with agreement that the £147m, already earmarked by Scottish Government for this purpose, is distributed to all councils with flexibility to raise Council Tax by up to 5%."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scottish Ministers recognise the importance of local authorities in providing vital public services across Scotland which is why the Scottish Budget for next year makes available record funding for councils of over £14 billion.

“Ministers have been engaging in open and honest dialogue with COSLA and Council Leaders over the challenging situation in which Budget decisions are being made.

“This includes the possibility of any Barnett consequentials resulting from the Spring Budget.

“The Deputy First Minister is happy to continue to meet with COSLA as part of the ongoing Budget process.”