Council leaders challenged to take funding arguments to COSLA

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SNP COUNCILLORS IN MORAY have challenged the Conservative and Independent Administration to reveal actions they have taken to improve Moray’s share of Scottish Government funding.

The call comes after Conservative group leader Tim Eagle providing figures that are said to demonstrate that the region does not get a ‘fair share’ of funding.

Councillor Eagle quoted figures from SPICEe, the Scottish Parliament’s information centre, that show Moray receives £1599 per head of population – significantly less than the £1850 per head that similar local authorities in Scotland receive.

SNP leaders at Moray Council insists that the funding distribution formula was negotiated through COSLA – and that the opportunity had been there for the Council Leader, who represents Moray at COSLA meetings, to challenge the distribution methods.

SNP Opposition Co-Leader Cllr Shona Morrison said: “This week has seen the Tory Group Leader on Moray Council calls for more money per head of population in Moray – so I ask him what have you done to try and achieve that?

Councillor Morrison – joint SNP leader.

“It is the Council Administration’s role to provide leadership for Moray at COSLA and to challenge the funding formula, if it needs to be challenged, so which parts of the funding formula agreed with COSLA does he think are wrong and what are the Council Administration’s proposals to COSLA and when are they going to present them?

“It is unacceptable for the councillors who are supposed to be providing leadership in the Council to blame the Scottish Government for a funding arrangement that is predominantly decided between the 32 members of COSLA. That is especially the case when Moray Council is one of those members and Leader of the Administration is the Council’s principle representative at COSLA.

“At the same time as Tory Councillors in Moray are complaining about lack of money for public services the Tory MP for Moray is actively campaigning for lower taxation, which would, of course, mean even less money for public services.

“This is totally contradictory and seems to be an attempt to deflect attention away from the Council Administration’s lack of leadership on key issues. They have the power in their own hands to raise these issues directly at COSLA – and to put motions in to propose changes to the funding formula if they so wish. So the question is, if they are that concerned, why haven’t they done so?”

The issue has been broached before by Moray Council. In 2014, when council leaders welcomed a funding distribution model proposed by COSLA that would see grants being calculated on school rolls. That gave the local authority an additional £4.5million funding share in 2015/16.

While that was agreed between COSLA and the Scottish Government, a vote amongst COSLA members elected to stick to the system being used previously – forcing Moray Council to consider resignation from the national body.  That was prompted by a Scottish Labour directive.

In the event COSLA did adopt the new system, providing the benefit to Moray as well as Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire

Then Leader of the Council, Allan Wright, commented: “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.”