Moray Council’s ruling group has used its new budget to throw down the gauntlet over Scottish Government childcare plans.
SNP ministers want to offer every three and four-year-old child in Scotland access to free nursery education by 2020.
But the cash-strapped council’s Independent and Tory-led administration responded they would only back the national policy if Holyrood covered all the costs.
Moray Council convener, Allan Wright, claimed that uncertainty surrounds the funding of the scheme.
Mr Wright said: “This is an SNP government initiative that councils have no choice but to go ahead with, but we will have no ability to [do so] unless it is fully funded.
“We have been given to believe that could be the case, but it is still open to the government to change that.
“We are including it in our financial plan that we will only support the scheme if it is fully funded.”
A Scottish Government spokesman stressed that Holyrood education chiefs had pledged to pay for the landmark project.
He added: “The Scottish Government is committed to meeting the additional costs to deliver the expansion of early learning and childcare to 1,140 hours by 2020.
“The Scottish Budget allocates £30million of new capital investment in 2017/18 to support the expansion, and we’re currently working on how to allocate that to local authorities.
“Our commitment to increase free early learning and childcare is this government’s most transformative infrastructure project.
“Work has already started to plan for this expansion, and we continue to work with our partners as we take forward our ambitious pledge.”