Moray looking to breach 3% cap on Council Tax to bridge funding gap

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MORAY COUNCILLORS ARE once again giving consideration to breaching the Scottish Government’s cap on council tax.

Council Leader George Alexander has said that while on first inspection funding from the budget announcement yesterday was “not as bad as expected”, raising Council Tax above the 3% limit was an option that had to be looked at.

“You have to keep everything in mind,” Councillor Alexander said, adding: “We definitely want to increase it by 3% again – we have already built that into our budget. At this stage, however, we want to know what penalty will be imposed if we go above the 3%.”

Moray threatened an eye-watering 18% increase a year ago – and were immediately pegged back by Holyrood, who made it clear anything above 3% would lead to a matching decrease in central funding.

According to reports Moray’s revenue funding from the budget is expected to fall by over £3.8million this year, with councillors still studying the budget proposals. Each 3% increase in council tax could raise £1.2million – so to make up the shortfall an increase of around 9% would be required.

The umbrella body for most Scottish Councils, COSLA, has said that they are writing to the Scottish Government to find out what consequences where would be for Councils going above the 3% threshold.

Councillor Morrison – fair settlement

Meanwhile the SNP opposition group at Moray Council has welcomed the terms of the budget, insisting it is a good one for Moray – insisting that the settlement to the Council is £2million better than was expected.

SNP Opposition Co-Leader on Moray Council, Councillor Shona Morrison, said: “This is a great budget statement from the Finance Secretary – and after all the doom and gloom from the Leader of Moray Council I hope there will be some acknowledgement of the SNP’s efforts to produce as fair a budget as possible.

“One of the biggest wins for Local Government is a huge commitment to fund Early Years Childcare expansion, which Moray Council will be responsible for delivering with that extra funding.

“The SNP has always sought to look further ahead and to be as strategic as possible in budget proposals. There is a real chance here for the Council’s Administration to make a serious commitment to pursuing Shared Services with other Local Authorities and with the rest of the public sector in Moray such as the NHS and the Police, we firmly believe that moving in that direction will help to protect our frontline services.

“Moray Council is going to be nearly £2million pounds better off than anticipated for its revenue budget.

“The Council’s Tory/Independent Administration are being given a chance here to take a more strategic perspective on the way forward for Moray and they must not squander that opportunity like the previous Tory/Independent Administration did.”

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