A war of words has erupted between Angus Council and the Scottish Government over a ‘missing’ £1 million.
The cash was from a £1.56m pot of gold given to the local authority intended for social care.
Angus Council has denied any wrongdoing – stating the cash was not ring-fenced – but concerns have been raised in the Scottish Parliament about how it was spent.
Scottish Government finance supremo, Derek McKay, has also waded into the row over how the cash was spent.
“I made it clear in my letter of 14 December to the president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the leaders of all 32 local authorities, including Angus Council, that I look to local authorities to continue to prioritise their financial support for social care,” he said.
“I have not received any replies to say that councils were not prepared to accept the 2018-19 local government finance settlement, so I expect all councils to comply fully with the terms that were set out in my letter.”
As part of the budget, the Scottish Government announced an additional £66m to meet the rocketing expenditure associated with social care, with £1.56m allocated to Angus Council.
However, just around a third of the Angus money was spent on social care —leaving over £1 million unaccounted for in the social care budget.
The row comes after the local authority, which is led by a rainbow alliance of Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors, had previously announced swingeing cuts to social care provision across the county, a move which saw a protest outside council chambers.
The cuts included the loss of up 170 jobs and a reduction in the number of staff available for community alarm calls, which led to fears that attempts to juggle emergencies, paperwork and breaks on shifts would cause delays with potentially fatal consequences.
Angus South SNP MSP Graeme Dey said he was “angry” about the “missing” £1 million.
He lashed out at the situation in a parliamentary debate on housing for people with learning disabilities, highlighting the identified need for learning disability accommodation in Carnoustie and Monifieth.
He said: “Put simply, had that £1 million made its way to where it should have gone, at the very least the chances of delivering that housing provision would have been enhanced.”
Angus Council Depute Leader and Finance Convener, Councillor Angus Macmillan Douglas, effectively suggested SNP government cuts were to blame.
“Angus Council, in a similar position to other Scottish Councils, is facing a £40m funding gap over three years, due to the Scottish Government continually under funding local authorities, failing to fund inflationary cost increases, including some salaries, and requiring increases for council services but not funding them,” he said.
“Against this background the relatively small payment towards health and social care costs is inadequate. Angus Council has a responsibility to balance its budget however hard the Scottish Government makes that.”
An Angus Council spokesman said: “The additional Scottish Government funding was provided to assist in the continued support of social care.
“It was not ring-fenced, but was allocated to assist councils to reach budgetary settlements with their local Health and Social Care Partnerships.
“It was agreed that, in recognition of the wider financial pressures faced by Angus Council, the sum of £510,000 would go to AHSCP.
“The IJB has previously approved three accommodation priorities for people with learning disabilities in Angus – the rehabilitation into the community of long-stay, complex needs patients from Strathmartine Hospital; the replacement for the Gables residential care home in Forfar with a new-build, specialist supported accommodation; and the development of high level supported housing in the Carnoustie/Monifieth area.”