City council chiefs have warned services in Aberdeen are facing cuts amid claims the region missed out on millions of pounds of coronavirus funding.
COSLA, the body representing councils across Scotland, met yesterday to discuss the distribution of £155 million in additional funds.
Money is being given to local authorities to help pay for the cost of services affected by the outbreak.
Douglas Lumsden, co-leader of Aberdeen City Council, put forward a motion which would have seen the funds distributed on a pro rata basis, based on each local authority’s predicted financial loss as of April 24.
It would have seen around £14 million distributed to the city council.
However, the motion was rejected in favour of a formula based on Grant Aid Expenditure and Special Islands Needs Allowance.
This formula takes account of the types of issues faced by councils as well as differences in population, geography and deprivation.
That means the council will only receive around £6 million in additional funding.
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Council co-leader Jenny Laing warned the decision would affect people in need across the city.
She said: “It should come as no surprise to our residents that Aberdeen City Council has once again been let down by COSLA.
“Our council is facing a £27m shortfall in revenue as a direct result of the Covid-19 crisis but instead of receiving around £14m to close this gap COSLA has chosen to allocate Aberdeen City Council less than £6m.
“This decision by COSLA will inevitably mean cuts in services to those most in need.”
She added: “I am sure Aberdeen residents will be angered at the decision not to allocate Aberdeen City Council its fair share of this £155 million and I would encourage them to join us in writing to the Alison Evison, president of COSLA to voice their condemnation at Aberdeen once again being put at the bottom of the funding list.”
Officers will bring recommendations on where services could be cut to the city council’s revised budget meeting next month.
Mr Lumsden said: “I proposed a motion which would have provided Aberdeen City Council with an extra £14m of financial assistance to help offset the financial pressures that Aberdeen City Council is under because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“My motion would have distributed the £155 million Barnett Formula consequentials on a pro rata basis to each of the councils based on their predicted financial loss as at 24th April following full disclosure of these numbers by all of Scotland’s local authorities to COSLA.
“Once again COSLA has proposed a funding formula that is prejudicial to the interests of Aberdeen City Council and indeed some councils actually gain money from this pandemic thanks to COSLA’s proposed formula. To say I am bitterly disappointed in my fellow group leaders at COSLA is an understatement.”
COSLA president Alison Evison said: “The decision taken by council leaders was to use a well-established method of distributing much needed funding to all 32 councils, allowing them to continue their heroic response to Covid-19.
“The formula that leaders agreed recognises the vast range of issues that councils are dealing with, as well as the differences in population, geography and deprivation. This was seen as the most appropriate way of getting the money out the door as quickly as possible – councils want to avoid any delay.
“Councils are continuing to collect data on the additional and often unique costs they are incurring, but it’s early days and information will inevitably be gathered which indicates that more financial support is needed. At this stage leaders decided it was better to stick to an agreed formula in these unprecedented times.”