MSP seeks budget probe

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SNP North East MSP Mark McDonald has called for Audit Scotland to investigate the budget process of Aberdeenshire Council following the authority’s announcement of a £20 million underspend.

He said the that coupled with a £5 million transfer from revenue to capital during the course of the financial year, the council has underspent to the tune of £25million, or 5% of its total budget.

Mr McDonald has raised concerns about the high underspend, which came against a background of significant cuts to core budgets, and the questions which are raised about the accuracy of budget forecasting at the council for the current year’s budget.

Mr McDonald is also concerned that the authority is seeking to spend the money on one-off projects, rather than set money aside to mitigate against future public spending pressures.

The MSP said: “The massive underspend by Aberdeenshire Council throws up significant questions about the management of the budget during the financial year, and whether unnecessary cuts were pursued by the council in some areas.

“Underspends in and of themselves are not uncommon or unwelcome, but to underspend 5% of the budget in one year is virtually unheard of. This raises questions about the current budget and how accurate the forecasting has been.”