Glasgow & West Scotland

Inverclyde Council to announce Cosla departure

Council services
Image caption Cosla helps local councils make collective decisions on public service policies

Inverclyde Council is expected to confirm that it intends to leave the local government organisation Cosla.

It will become the fourth local authority to say it is giving notice of its intention to leave the umbrella body for councils.

Aberdeen, Renfrewshire, and Dumfries and Galloway have already indicated they will quit.

The split in Cosla's ranks has developed over how Scottish government funding is distributed.

Some Labour councillors have indicated they believe Cosla has failed to stand up for them.

BBC Scotland local government correspondent Jamie McIvor has said another two councils in the west of Scotland are expected to decide whether they should also quit in the next few weeks.

Government grant

At the heart of the dispute is the formula used to distribute government money between Scotland's 32 councils.

Typically about 80p of every pound each council spends comes from a Scottish government grant.

A long-standing and complicated formula divides up the cash. It takes account of factors such as the relative prosperity of an area, the demographics of the population and how urban or rural the population is.

But some Labour councils think they are getting a bad deal and want the formula changed.

Changing the funding formula would mean there would be winners and losers and many other councils are happy with it as it stands.

Because Cosla seeks to represent the views of all 32 Scottish councils, it is rarely possible for it to gain agreements to take a stand on any controversial party political issue.

Pay deals

Councils are required to give a full financial year's notice of their intention to quit Cosla.

Cosla currently represents the collective interests of all councils and also negotiates Scotland-wide pay deals with unions.

Dave Watson, Scottish organiser for pay and campaigns with trade union Unison, said that while the union had had disagreements with Cosla over the years, he would not encourage or support its break up.

Mr Watson said: "Local government needs a strong collective voice in the face of government centralisation and cuts.

"Breakaways simply weaken the message and encourages divide and rule. We would therefore encourage the parties to sort out their disagreements as the procedures allow.

The Scottish government has said membership of Cosla was up to individual councils but defended the system used to distribute cash.

At the time of Renfrewshire's decision to leave, a Cosla spokesman said: "The reality is that Cosla is the only local government association in the United Kingdom with a 100% membership.

"This will continue to be the case for the rest of this financial year and all of next financial year and during this time the organisation will be doing its absolute utmost to ensure that we resolve the issues that have been raised with us and as well as representing our full 32-council membership."

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