Maureen’s Matters - North East not short changed

Good news hit the headlines last week with an million pound increase in local government funding for Aberdeenshire in this coming year.

The Local Government Finance Order was recently agreed by the Scottish Parliament, with the cash injection for Aberdeenshire rising by around £8 million on this year - from £406.050 million in 2014/15 up to £414.723 million in 2015/16.

Across Scotland an extra £107m has been allocated to local government, with the new and improved package including funding to maintain the council tax freeze for another year, maintain teacher numbers at 2014/15 levels, provide funding to alleviate the effects of the Bedroom Tax and to give free school meals for children in P1-3.

It cannot be underestimated how significant the Council Tax freeze is.

Because the payments have not been increased year on year as part of a clear commitment from the Scottish Government, budgets have been protected in what remains a tough economic climate.

But the increase in local government funding ensures that public services are getting the investment they need to provide for people across Aberdeenshire, and this should be welcomed.

The extra local funding comes hot on the heels of the cash boost for local health care, announced a few weeks ago. For 2015/16, NHS Grampian’s resource budget is to increase by 6.7 per cent to £830.1 million, above inflation and the largest increase of any mainland board, having previously increased by 4.6 per cent in 2014/15.

Work has started on the £745 million Aberdeen West Peripheral Route, and there is a new cancer centre and women’s hospital at Foresthill in the pipeline. Has the North East been short changed by the Scottish Government? I don’t think so.