A decision that would have cost Moray Council £4.5million in the next financial year and brought about threats of resignation from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has been reversed.
The way in which Scottish Government funding is disbursed to local authorities in Scotland caused serious splits with Moray threatening to resign from COSLA. Other local authorities also threatened to quit after COSLA leaders had rejected a revised formula that would have seen some councils, including Moray, receive a greater share of available funding.
In the revised formula the grants allocated would be based on population and school rolls, and as both had increased in Moray that would mean a £4.5million higher allocation for the 2015/16 financial year.
However, a COSLA vote in September last year was to continue with the same system used in the current financial year, despite agreement having been reached by the Scottish Government and COSLA on the new allocation system.
The controversial decision was reached because Labour councillors on COSLA followed a party decision to reject the new formula – including Aberdeen City council leaders despite the fact their own budget would lose around £7.3million.
The decision sparked a serious split in the COSLA ranks, with Moray Council holding a special meeting in March with resignation as an option. However, Councillors decided not to withdraw but to press for a rethink.
Following agreement by COSLA to rescind their September decision the leader of Moray Council, Allan Wright, said: “To have up-to-date data and not use it in a revision of the qualifying criteria was a thoroughly bad decision in September.
“It went through then by a majority of two but it was always obvious that once the Labour whip was removed and leaders could each vote on what was best for their council that a very different result would be achieved.
“I’m very glad there was room in the COSLA system to accommodate the change, the need for which became evident when Finance Secretary John Swinney published figures for individual councils.
“The outcome is very welcome for Moray which, in percentage terms, was the hardest hit under the previous system. The 4500 rise in our population highlighted in the census results, and a sizeable increase in our school roll all worked for us in getting the improved allocation.
“I’m also please that Aberdeen City (£7.3m) and Aberdeenshire (£5.9m) also benefitted from the proper way forward.”