Moray gets a £2.75m Scottish Budget boost from Green intervention

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John Finnie – ‘monumental’ deal struck by Green Party

MORAY COUNCIL WILL be in a much stronger financial position than they had expected – thanks to the intervention of the Green Party in the Scottish Government’s budget.

The local authority will receive an additional £2.75million as their share of £170million in additional funding agreed between the SNP Government and the Green Party ahead of the Holyrood Budget Debate today (Wednesday).

Additional council funding was amongst a raft of demands made by the Greens in exchange for their agreeing the budget – the minority SNP Government requiring the support of at least one other party at Holyrood.

For Moray it will be a welcome bonus – and make their own budget deliberations much easier to deal with, easing the strain on local services having been at the core of the Greens demands.

Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie said the budget deal struck was “monumental” for Moray and all local councils: “I am delighted that my Green MSP colleagues and I have been able to seal this monumental deal which will ensure Moray Council’s proposed cuts can now be significantly reduced.

“This deal demonstrates how electing Greens can make a real difference to communities. I have continuously pressed for these cuts to be scrapped and I’m thrilled that we have delivered a fair settlement today.

“The budget agreement will see those earning lower than average incomes pay less income tax, it will ensure the vast majority of public sector staff – including nurses and teachers – receive a pay rise linked to inflation and provide more investment in communities.

“While other parties continue to posture from the side-lines, Greens are making Highland and Scotland fairer. This agreement is the latest step in a journey on restoring financial powers at local level, on which we will need to see far more progress before next year’s budget, as the annual fight against council cuts must not continue.”

Moray’s SNP MSP Richard Lochhead claimed the decision as a triumph for the Scottish Government, while making no mention of the deal with the Greens in his statement released earlier today.

He said: “The draft budget shows that where Scotland has the power, the SNP will take a different, fairer approach – and give Scots the best deal in the UK.

“Thanks to the decisions made by the Scottish Government, local government funding is increasing by inflation and today Moray Council have been given an extra £2.75 to spend on local services.

“This additional funding for local services is hugely welcome and I hope the Council will now move quickly to drop some of their more draconian proposed cuts to our schools and education services. I appreciate Moray Council face tough decisions, just as the Scottish Government has faced tough decisions, but the Council leadership can now protect education.

“This budget is a good deal for taxpayers and for public services in Moray – and is only possible because of the SNP’s progressive tax reforms, that are backed by the public by two to one.

“In the face of significant Westminster cuts, the Scottish Government is using its powers progressively to invest in our schools and our hospitals – and in communities across Moray.”