DCSIMG

£10m gap in Falkirk Council budget

The council will have over �329 million to deliver services but every penny is going to be precious. Picture: Michael Gillen (140234b)

The council will have over �329 million to deliver services but every penny is going to be precious. Picture: Michael Gillen (140234b)

 

Councillors will have to cut spending by over £10 million to balance the town hall’s books this year.

The budget will be put to a meeting of the full council next Wednesday – but already parts of it have come under attack from the SNP.

A department by department programme of savings to fill the £10.5 million gap resulting from the local government financial settlement will be explained. Funding from the Scottish Government is worth £275.3 million – but only enough to pay 80 per cent of the services it provides from a revenue budget which has been fixed at £329.3 million.

The modest increase of 1.05 per cent has left it facing a “significant financial challenge” once again.

Efficiency savings worth £2.8 million are proposed while service savings of £4.8 million have been identified as a key part of the strategy. At the same time a tougher negotiating process when it comes to buying goods and equipment will trim spending by over £1 million while the ‘spend to save’ initiative which has been funded by £3.5 million since its introduction and allowed the council to buy property instead of taking out long-term leases will be given further financial support.

The scheme launched in 2012 has already produced real term savings of £400,000 a year.

When it meets on Wednesday the council will also be asked to approve taking £1.7 million from reserves to help maintain frontline services.

The administration says the continued failure of the Scottish Government’s contribution to meet the Labour-led administration’s spending and investment plans, coupled with another freeze on the council tax, has left it with very little room for manoeuvre.

Council leader Craig Martin said: “We are facing another year of difficult financial times but worked very hard with our officers in the light of these real term cuts to produce a budget which will allow us to spend where we need to spend to maintain and protect the services we provide and the people we provide the services to.

‘‘In difficult financial times we have our priorities and they will be protected.”

The SNP claims the oldest and poorest will be hit hard by a planned rise in the cost of homecare and home shopping services. It also attacked plans to give Falkirk Leisure Trust five per cent more.

Group leader Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn said: “This service was transferred because it was claimed it would save money.

“Now a poorly performing private organisation is being bailed out at the expense of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. This is not what the people fo Falkirk want or voted for and means they are being let down.”

BREAKDOWN:

The council has £329.354 million to spend this year made up in the main from a general grant from the Scottish Government worth £279 million and £52 million from council tax.

The Band D council tax bill which most people pay will remain at £1070.

The education and social work budgets will increase by £2.4 millions and £2.1 million respectively, although free swimming lessons for P5 pupils costing £65,000 a year will end.

Development services faces an overall reduction in its spending power of over £1 million.

 

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