Councils facing lower settlement through ‘accounting error’

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Derek Mackay MP

A SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT accounting error looks set to bring even greater problems for Moray Councillors as they wrestle with multi-million pound budget cuts.

There was hope for local authorities throughout Scotland when Finance Secretary Derek Mackay revealed interim settlements that were not as bad as had first been expected.

Last week Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead highlighted that, as Moray would be £2million better off in the settlement than they had first thought, they should halt their cutback plans for school libraries.

However, it has now emerged that the total allocation for Scotland’s hard-pressed town halls may be less than announced – because part of the block finance included a block of ring-fenced funding for criminal justice that had been allocated to two separate areas.

That means in line with all local authorities, Moray Council will need to take that into account in their own deliberations.

Jenny Laing, co-leader at Aberdeen Council, revealed that local authorities were told of the situation at the end of last week. She said: “Councils were told on Friday that the Scottish Government had double-counted the money ring-fenced for criminal justice, and that this error would mean a further reduction in the overall local authority settlement of £86million.”

Councils are also grappling with the difficulties they face in meeting the promised 3% increase for public sector pay which will also need to be met from local budgets.