Some relief for Moray – but leader insists we will still be £1m down

Stewart Cree – some relief but Moray will still be £1m worse off.

MORAY WILL REMAIN at least one million pounds worse off despite moves by the Scottish Government to reverse a controversial decision on local taxation.

Local authorities around the country were furious when a ‘review’ on how councils are funded decided to increase the contributions from those living in higher-value homes – however, millions raised in that way was to be clawed back by the Scottish Government to pay for greater investment in education.

In his budget proposals announced on Thursday, finance secretary Derek Mackay announced that decision was to be reversed, saying the Councils could keep the additional funding for other uses.  The surprise move is intended to further ease the strain on hard-pressed councils who will also have the right to increase Council Tax across the board by 3% from April.

While welcomed in Moray, that will not be enough to save the local authority from a deficit, according to council leader Stewart Cree.

He said: “There are a number of things in there to sweeten the pill – but it will only get us back to more or less where we are already financially. We could be as much as £1million worse off.”

Mr Mackay insisted that councils were being given a fair deal under his proposals, saying that they were being given a £240million boost in their spending power in a wider package for local authorities.

His proposals will see no changes to income tax rates despite new powers given to the Scottish Parliament from April, while he has pledged an additional £300million to protect NHS and Police budgets.

Business Rates will also be reduced by 3.7% while Head Teachers will be given £120million from central funding rather than, as originally announced, being taken from the increase in Council Tax for higher-value households.