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Budget set for 2018/19

Council budget protects frontline services and invests in ambitious infrastructure projects

Budget 2018

East Renfrewshire Council today (Friday 2 March) agreed a three-year budget plan which strives to protect frontline services, jobs and the area's most vulnerable residents.

The council will deliver a balanced budget in 2018/19 and also announced more than £1m of investment in the coming year which will support lasting improvements across a range of services.

This will include a £250,000 investment in laptops and tablets in schools. In addition a Reading Recovery scheme put in place last year to support pupils having difficulty will also be extended for a further year and an additional £150,000 has been committed to making improvements to mixed tenure properties.

In setting the budget, councillors also approved an increase to Council Tax of three per cent in each of the next three years, in order to minimise the impact of savings on frontline services.

In East Renfrewshire we continue to face increased pressures linked to our rising elderly population and growing younger population, which places a high demand on both our schools and social care services. New legislation such as recycling targets, landfill tax and welfare reform also need to be considered when planning how best to deliver services in the future. So whilst raising Council Tax was a tough choice it was one that had to be made in order to protect the services most valued by residents. Our ambition to deliver the very best for our residents is highlighted through our series of investments in the first year of this budget process which will enhance the services we deliver. We have also listened to our residents and amended savings proposals to reflect their feedback as we try minimise the impact of the changes which require to be made in the way in which we deliver services. Council Leader Tony Buchanan

The Council carried out an extensive budget consultation exercise last year, giving residents the opportunity to have their say on the savings options available - totalling £28m.

Read about the budget consultation

The three-year savings estimate is now £20.3m as the budget settlement from the Scottish Government which was better than originally estimated and Councillors agreed to reduce required savings by using of £1.5m of reserves in each of the next three years.

The package of measures which have been agreed in order to deliver the required savings and minimise the impact on services include:

  • Removed £7.7m of the most difficult savings options
  • Agreeing efficiencies totalling £9.6m over the next three years as part of overall savings of £20.3m  
  • The deferral of a number of savings proposals until future years to allow services more time to plan for the changes
  • A commitment that no compulsory redundancies will be required in the coming financial year

An investment of around £183m will also be made in ambitious capital infrastructure projects over the next eight years to drive growth and create jobs.

With the reduction of our savings target we have been able to remove some of the most difficult savings options from the table. This includes minimising the reduction in budgets devolved to head teachers and maintaining the roads budget at £4m for the coming years - two of the main issues highlighted during the public consultation. In addition, due to the Council's sound long-term financial planning we currently have a healthy level of reserves, so by utilising these it has allowed us to further offset the impact of savings. We have also chosen to leave a slight shortfall in the final year of less than £2m - which is less than 1% of our overall budget. This will allow us to reassess the situation next year when there will be a clearer funding picture available from the Scottish Government - as we believe it is better to leave this slight gap rather than commit to savings which might ultimately not need to be made. Taking these steps also reduces the savings target to £20.3m - some £7.7m less than had initially been anticipated. Council Leader Tony Buchanan

The budget announcement also reinforced the Council's commitment to modernising and streamlining services wherever possible in order to offset the need for cuts. 

Of the Council savings needed over the next three years it is expected that almost 70% - £9.6m - will be achieved through being more efficient.

The opposition warned of increasingly tough times ahead for local authorities and proposed an alternative budget. Following a vote, the Administration budget was approved and will now be taken forward by the council.

Council Leader's speech

A transcript of the Leader's speech and the accompanying presentation slides are available below:

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