One problem faced by councils such as Aberdeenshire is the mismatch between the budget for general expenditure and that tied up in projects such as the Excellence Fund. Ring-fencing of local overnment finance is relatively new. Councils used to be able to spend as they chose and face the verdict of ratepayers at the ballot box. Now central government seeks to impose its own agenda and to that end limits the freedom of councils.
No one questions the value of Excellence Fund projects for which councils have successfully bid. But what is the point of innovation if core parts of the education service are being undermined? Some councils are set to suffer badly. Others are much less stretched. The general lack of comprehension among MSPs about funding inhibits debate about the best way to fund local government and thus to find the best relationship with the centre.