SNP refuse fair funding for Aberdeen
North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald today criticised SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney for rejecting cross-party calls to fix the under-funding of Aberdeen City Council as part of this year's Scottish Government budget.
The SNP said five years ago that no council would receive less than 85% of the Scottish average of revenue funding per head, but has never yet delivered on that promise.
Answers to Written Questions today confirmed that Aberdeen's revenue funding is set to fall from 79.2% in 2015/16 to 77.3% in 2016/17, leaving it nearly £18m short of the "funding floor" the SNP promised at the last election.
And today in Parliament, in debating the Local Government Finance Order, John Swinney faced cross-party calls to look again at Aberdeen's funding shortfall, but refused to do so.
Lewis Macdonald said, after the debate:
"Yet again, SNP Ministers and backbenchers have refused to address the under-funding of Aberdeen City Council, even at a time when the local economy is in deep trouble because of the downturn in oil and gas.
"They try to disguise the under-funding of Aberdeen City Council by accounting adjustments, but even the Deputy First Minister would not explain the basis for the figures they have published.
"At the time that the SNP gained an overall majority in 2011, Aberdeen received 84% of Scottish average funding, when it was responsible with other local authorities for funding fire and police.
"Now those services have been removed from local control, and centralised away from the North East into the bargain, but the money that was spent on them five years ago is still "counted" in Scottish Government figures, and used to disguise the sharp fall in Aberdeen's local government funding.
"SNP support for Aberdeen in the current economic downturn has been too little too late. The fact they still will not own up to breaking their promises on local government funding simply adds insult to injury."
Written Answers to Lewis' questions
Lewis Macdonald (North East Scotland) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S4W-29258 by John Swinney on 15 January 2016, whether it plans to make adjustments in determining the average local authority revenue support per capita and, if so, (a) what these are and (b) what the reason is for doing so.
John Swinney: The Scottish Government will consider how the average local authority revenue support per capita should be calculated in connection with the 85% funding floor as part of the consideration of future local government finance settlements.
Lewis Macdonald (North East Scotland) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S4W-29256 by John Swinney on 15 January 2016, what percentage of the unadjusted average revenue funding per capita Aberdeen City Council has received in each year since 2011-12.
John Swinney: In 2011-12 before the introduction of 85% funding floor Aberdeen City Council received 84.0% of the Scottish average revenue funding per head. Following the introduction of the new floor Aberdeen would have received 83.5%/84.1%/84.6% over the 3 year settlement 2012-15. As a result of the new floor Aberdeen City Council received over 85% of the Scottish average.
These figures were calculated before the transfer of responsibility for police and fire from local to central government on 1 April 2013 and as is standard practice the local government finance settlements were not reopened.
In 2015-16 as a result of the transfer of police and fire Aberdeen City Council's revenue funding per head would have been 79.2% but following the adjustment for police and fire the council once again received 85% of the adjusted Scottish average.
Lewis Macdonald (North East Scotland) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S4W-29257 by John Swinney on 15 January 2016, what percentage of the unadjusted average revenue funding per capita Aberdeen City Council will receive in 2016-17.
John Swinney: In 2016-17 as a result of the transfer of police and fire on 1 April 2013, Aberdeen City Council's revenue funding per head would have been 77.3% but following the adjustment for police and fire the Council will once again receive 85% of the adjusted Scottish average having been allocated an extra £14 million more than their needs-based allocation suggested.
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