A CLAIM BY the leader of the SNP Council group in Moray that the passage of the Scottish Budget this week was a victory for the party in government has been dismissed out of hand.
In the budget this week the SNP were forced into a deal that would see higher rate taxpayers in Scotland paying more than in any other part of the UK.
The deal will, however, bring some relief for hard-pressed Councils, with Moray set to receive £2.9million more than they had expected.
That prompted a statement from Councillor Gary Coull who said that along with £1.3million being given to Head Teachers in Moray to tackle the ‘attainment gap’ it was all good news for the region.
Councillor Coull said: “Despite drastic Westminster cuts to Scotland’s budget, the SNP Government is proposing an additional £304 million in funding for the NHS this year – £120million more for schools to tackle the attainment gap, the substantial extra funding just announced for local councils and extending the Small Business Bonus to ensure that 100,000 premises pay no rates whatsoever.
“In the last few days we have seen £1.3million in additional investment direct from the Scottish Government to Moray schools and a further £2.9million to support the delivery of other local services in Moray. That is over £4million of additional funding coming into our region.
“Meanwhile the Tories at Westminster are cutting Scotland’s budget to the bone, their MSPs at Holyrood have demanded spending increases, while at the same time demanding tax cuts of over £3billion.
“It is clearly impossible for any Government to increase funding for public services while also reducing income. This type of posturing needs to be exposed. The SNP are sticking to the job at hand of making the best use of public finances and protecting folk on lower incomes. I certainly welcome this additional funding for Moray.”
However, Tory councillor and regional MSP Douglas Ross hit back – saying that Councillor Coull either did not understand the budget or was being deliberately misleading.
He told insideMoray: “Gary Coull either doesn’t understand the budget his party passed at Holyrood or he is deliberately misleading people.
“To say Moray Council will receive extra money as a result of the last-minute deal with the Greens is just wrong. Instead the cut to Moray Council will just be £2.3million less than the SNP proposed in December.
“Moray Council will still see a £4.4million reduction in the real terms funding it gets from the Scottish Government – so you have to wonder why SNP councillors are celebrating this cut to local services that is a reduction of almost 3% – and the SNP wonder why services are being reduced.
“Continuing the untruths is the comment that Westminster is cutting Scotland’s budget, in reality the SNP had £501million more to spend this year than they did last year, according to the Scottish Parliament’s independent research service.
“The SNP’s budget is up 1.5% in real terms but their funding to Moray Council is down 3% in real terms. SNP councillors can try and spin that any way they want but I am very happy to say I voted against this budget.
“It’s also a budget that made Scotland the highest taxed part of the United Kingdom and the SNP will have to explain to voters in May why they want to tax people more but cut the funding they provide to local councils.”