Published: 30/04/2014 16:34 - Updated: 30/04/2014 16:49

Moray to benefit by £4.5m following COSLA vote

COSLATHREATS to Moray Council's future government funding have been lifted.

A decision last week by Scotland's 32 council leaders has resulted in an increase in the Scottish Government's financial allocation to Moray in 2015/16.

A previous move last September to make the same awards as in the current financial year would have cost Moray £4.5 million from their government grant for the year 2015/16.

However, this was rescinded when leaders were given a free vote at a Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) meeting in Edinburgh on Friday.

It means that rather than Moray Council having to make recurring savings of around £10 million over the next two years, as part of a widespread cost-cutting programme totalling £30 million, that figure has now dropped to £5.4 million. 

The Scottish Government grant is based on population and school rolls, both of which have increased in Moray.

Most council leaders voted for a needs-based system using the most up-to-date information, including the 2011 census figures.

Following the decision, Moray Council leader Allan Wright said he was pleased that common sense had prevailed.

"To have up-to-date data and not use it in a revision of the qualifying criteria was a thoroughly bad decision in September. It went through then by a majority of two but it was always obvious that once the Labour whip was removed and leaders could each vote on what was best for their council, that a very different result would be achieved.

"I'm very glad there was room in the Cosla system to accommodate the change, the need for which became evident when Finance Secretary John Swinney published figures for individual councils.

"The outcome is very welcome for Moray which, in percentage terms, was the hardest hit under the previous system. The 4,500 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.

"I'm also please that Aberdeen City (£7.3m) and Aberdeenshire (£5.9m) also benefitted from the proper way forward."

The row over changes to the allocation calculations led to many authorities leaving Cosla. Moray Council held a special full council meeting to consider leaving the organisation but agreed to stay and argue for the funding change.

More on this story in Friday's 'Northern Scot'

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