Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross will pledge to deliver “fair funding” for councils to ensure the north-east stops losing out on public cash.
Mr Ross’s promise of a new funding formula to allocate money to local authorities follows years of complaints that Aberdeen and the surrounding areas gets a raw deal.
The pledge will be part of Mr Ross’s first speech to the Scottish Conservative conference as leader of the party north of the border.
Addressing a virtual conference, Mr Ross will say: “From 2007 to 2019, the SNP Government’s budget increased by 14%. But the grant they gave to councils only went up by half of this, 7%, over the same period.
We’ve all seen that, time and again, the north-east misses out on funding to the central belt. The Scottish Conservatives will put that right and make sure that the north-east finally gets our fair share.”
“This matters, because it means money taken away from vital local services like schools, roads and housing.
“We’ve all seen that, time and again, the north-east misses out on funding to the central belt. The Scottish Conservatives will put that right and make sure that the north-east finally gets our fair share.
“To put an end to this, the Scottish Conservatives will bring forward legislation in the next parliament to enshrine fair funding for councils in law.
“We will guarantee that local government gets a set, fair proportion of the Scottish Government budget each year.”
It is understood the funding mechanism would have some similarities to the Barnett Formula, which is used to determine the size of the block grant Scotland receives from the Treasury.
The Conservatives have long argued that north-east councils lose out when it comes to the allocation of money.
Their claim related to the revenue grant that Aberdeen City, Aberdeeshire, Moray and Angus receive from the Scottish Government.
Revenue grant is used for items such as bin collections, schools and roads. It does not include local authority cash raised by council tax and business rates or funding which is ring-fenced for specific central government policies, such as the expansion of childcare.
Analysis conducted by the Tories suggests that revenue grant for the four councils has fallen by £40.05 million between 2018-19 and 2019-20.
That is the equivalent of more than £750,000 per week or more than £100,000 for every day of the year.
‘This could be a game-changer’
Aberdeen City Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden of the Conservatives said: “The way Aberdeen has been treated since the SNP came to power is a disgrace. Our calls for fair funding have gone ignored. Every year, we wait for funding and it’s never a surprise when the government doesn’t pass on what they should.”
Mr Lumsden added: “This new policy could be a game-changer for Aberdeen and councils like ours, which have so often been overlooked and left behind by pitiful funding settlements.”
But the Scottish Government took issue with Mr Ross’s interpretation of the 14% increase in Scotland’s budget.
A spokesman for Finance Secretary Kate Forbes: “This is a huge blunder from the Tories.
“The spending they’ve identified reflects the SNP’s massive investment in the NHS, and the only way they could meet their funding pledge is by slashing money from the health budget in the middle of a pandemic, proving once again that the Tories can’t be trusted with Scotland’s NHS.”