Budget leaves Moray Council staring down a £3.7m black hole

£3.7m cut in Moray’s budget could mean job losses

MORAY IS FACING a £3.7million cut in their finances as a result of the Scottish budget measures revealed by John Swinney on Tuesday.

Councils throughout Scotland are the biggest losers with the Deputy First Minister announcing a “strong but challenging” financial situation for local authorities, who are also faced with the prospect of a ninth successive year where council tax will be frozen.

The cut to Moray’s budget reflects the Scottish Government’s own estimate of a 3.5% reduction in funding – and that, according to one local councillor, will mean cuts to care for the elderly, schools and roads as well as local council jobs being lost.

Fochabers/Lhanbryde Labour councillor Sean Morton said: “We were promised an anti-austerity budget but we’ve given a budget riddled with hidden cuts.

“This budget doesn’t deliver fairer taxes, a long term plan for Scotland or an anti-austerity alternative. Local services like our schools, roads and care of the elderly will likely face massive cuts.

“It’s not enough to blame Westminster any more when the SNP have all the powers they need to end austerity. Councils in Scotland will now face £500m worth of cuts – that’s the equivalent of 15,000 jobs. These cuts to councils are cuts we’re all about to feel.”

The representative body for all Scottish local authorities, COSLA, last night said the budget was “catastrophic” with their president, David O’Neil, saying: “This is a budget that hits the council workforce in terms of job losses. It hits the child in care, it hits the elderly struggling with dementia and vulnerable adults.

“A cut of 3.5% is catastrophic for jobs and services within Scottish local government because the harsh reality is that it actually translates to real job cuts that hit real families in real communities throughout Scotland.”

Councillor Allan Wright, the Convener of Moray Council, said that he felt local authorities were being “hard done by” when compared with the NHS which has been given an increase in funding.

However, the SNP group leader at Moray Council, Councillor Gary Coull, insisted that the budget put Scotland’s councils in a better position than those in England – but admitted that redundancies were possible.

He said: “It’s something we did in the past when savings have had to be made – and the staff at Moray Council have been excellent.”

This budget was the first time the Scottish Government had real power to vary the rate of income tax – but that proved a move too drastic to take for a government on the eve of the Scottish Elections, Mr Swinney electing not to tinker with the 10p rate he has control over.