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SWINNEY PAYS TRIBUTE TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT

9th March 2008

John Swinney today said the Concordat between local and national government was already delivering benefits for the people of Scotland - and that he was confident the historic agreement would stand the test of time.

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth said that local authorities were "rising to the challenges" set by the new government and that the future would bring new opportunities to develop the relationship further.

Mr Swinney, who addressed the COSLA conference in St Andrews today, said: "Those critics who said the Concordat will not work must recognise that, working together, we are already starting to deliver.

"We have achieved a council tax freeze in Scotland - providing much needed relief for householders facing pressure from rising bills in areas like food and fuel.

"It is a clear milestone of success for our Concordat. I do not underestimate the task ahead - but local government has risen to the challenge since last summer.

"And I believe the deal we struck will stand the test of time. We have set out an ambitious agenda and we have made a good start. The challenge now is to sustain and build on that.

"Joint work is well in hand to deliver single outcome agreements that will set out exactly what each council will deliver with the resources available to it. We have also agreed jointly to review the distribution methodology for the local government funding settlement. And we will engage fully and directly with local government when we publish our plans in the near future to introduce a fairer local income tax based on ability to pay.

"It is clear that together we can achieve more than we ever could separately. Together we will make this a more successful and prosperous country for the people of Scotland."

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