DOUBTS over what will come out of the local government settlement, as well as Brexit, is causing uncertainties for the Clackmannanshire Council budget.

The General Election meant the UK Government budget had to be postponed, in turn the Scottish Government financial planning could not be published which means local authorities are having to work with a number of assumptions and are in the dark on exact details.

There has been speculation the UK budget will not be set until March, the same month Clackmannanshire Council is legally required to set council tax and its own budget for 2020-21.

Planning is ongoing at the Wee County local authority in the meantime and this year's consultation on the proposals is taking a different shape.

Instead of asking for people's views in one big consultation, the council is working with affected groups directly to get an idea on the impact of potential changes to how services are being delivered.

The possibility of a four per cent council tax rise, proposed by officers at this time, is being consulted on county-wide.

Councillor Ellen Forson, leader of the SNP administration, spoke to the Advertiser about the issues she and colleagues are facing.

She said: "We know that whatever scenario happens, whatever deal comes through Brexit, the country is going to be worse off and that will reflect in the settlement that is given to the Scottish Government and it will reflect, no doubt, on the settlement that's given to local authorities."

In terms of planning locally, she added: "It's impossible [to plan properly without a settlement].

"We are having to go with assumptions and with all the best of intentions you can use assumptions, but then it can get completely thrown up in the air.

"At the moment I am understanding that the UK Government is not going to be setting a budget until March, which means the Scottish Government is unable to set a budget until March and therefore we won't know what our settlement is likely to be until then."

If the local authority is unable to set a balanced budget come March 31, things will roll over based on the previous year without any changes, taking away he opportunity to implement ideas, plans and management efficiencies for a time.

Plus all the current work would have to be revisited if the settlement differs greatly from what was assumed.

Cllr Forson had originally hoped to put forward a budget in February, but that is now unlikely.

However, the council leader is confident a balanced budget will be set.

She added: "I find it very frustrating, but we've known this scenario was coming for the last few months.

"Officers have been working really hard to bring forward proposals, some are not acceptable to the administration so we take them off the table straight away, other things we have asked to be worked up through the Programme Management Board, which has cross-party representation on it so all parties are seeing all the proposals."