COUNCIL tax will be frozen in Fife and there's extra money to fix the roads, tackle violence in schools and clear litter from the streets.

With budget day on Thursday the minority Labour administration's proposals also include propping up health and social care and helping households struggling with the cost of living crisis.

Council leader David Ross took a swipe at the Scottish Government for failing to treat local authorities "fairly" in terms of funding and the SNP group in Fife for their "lazy and inept" financial strategy for the Kingdom.

In a pre-budget briefing he said: "We've always said we're not here to manage decline.

"We are determined to, as far as we can, protect jobs and services and we remain ambitious for our communities."

Central Fife Times: Fife Council leader, Labour councillor David Ross.Fife Council leader, Labour councillor David Ross. (Image: Fife Council)

The Labour councillor continued: "It's still another difficult year, however by a combination of good housekeeping, careful financial management and a bit of luck, in that there's one-off funding that wasn't expected, we're going to manage to sustain our services without significant cuts."

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For agreeing to a council tax freeze, the Scottish Government offered the equivalent of a five per cent increase, £9.3m, to Fife Council.

Cllr Ross said they will accept the terms but aren't happy about it: "The freeze is not fully funded by the government, in effect they're also cutting our core grant, so they're giving with one hand and taking with the other.

"The money they're issuing to freeze council tax should have been passed to local government anyway and it should be councils that determine the level of council tax."

The council tax for 2024-25 will remain at £1,385 for band D properties, although water bills that are not set by the council are set to shoot up by 8.8 per cent. Rents are set to go up by five per cent - the average weekly cost will rise by £4.10 to £86.50 - and fees and charges for council services are also set to increase by five per cent.

From recurring expenditure of £1.88m the Labour administration are proposing to spend £500,000 on educational psychologists to help combat the rising levels of violence in Fife schools.

Cllr Ross said it's "certainly not a silver bullet" but would help support the mental wellbeing of pupils and staff.

There's £880,000 for the Mid Fife subsidised bus contracts, the tenders for which had gone up by nearly 90 per cent, to help pay for bus services that companies otherwise wouldn't choose to run as they're not profitable.

Central Fife Times: There's more money in the budget to try and tackle rising levels of violence in Fife schools. There's more money in the budget to try and tackle rising levels of violence in Fife schools. (Image: Newsquest)

And there's also £250,000 for street cleansing and grounds maintenance - an area where cutbacks had been made in the past - which will pay for more staff and sweeping machines, From the £19.5m of one-off funding available, there's £2.5m for the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Cllr Ross said: "Rather than a blanket council tax freeze - which benefits more affluent households - we think it's better to have a hardship fund where we can really target the support to those who need it most."

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There's an extra £2.1m for the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership which has a "significant hole" in its budget. Jointly funded by the council and NHS Fife, the partnership is set to receive a total of £17.1m from the local authority. An extra £3.5m was put into road improvements last year - 40,000 square metres of patching was carried out - and it's same again in 2024-25 to tackle the proliferation of potholes.

There's £5m to pay for 120 new vehicles.

The council fleet has 543 vehicles that are more than 10 years old and Cllr Ross said: "Some of them are spending more time in the garage than they are on the roads."

To replace them all would cost £18m and the proposed allocation is a "step in the right direction".

Labour have set aside £20,000 for improving pedestrian access to Dalgety Bay and St Andrews recycling centres and £210,000 of "preparatory work" towards supplying every pupil with a "one-to-one digital device" such as a tablet or Chrome book.

The overall cost is estimated to be £13m.

Cllr Ross warned: "We're going to be able to manage without cutting any services this year but there's a huge amount of pressure coming over the hill next year with at least a £15m gap."

He dismissed the SNP's proposed budget as "lazy and inept" and added: "What they've done is wait to see what we've done and then cynically put in a bit more just so they can try and look better.

"But they haven't done the homework to see what's really needed.

"They've also got some fanciful ideas like solar compactors that they never mentioned once to us."