Council’s savings progress criticised

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Falkirk Council’s progress with tackling the financial challenges it faces has been criticised.

The latest report from the Accounts Commission says it is failing to move fast enough to get things in order and the council is under fire for making limited progress in addressing the urgent need for more radical change identified after an inspection last August.

The commission says it is disappointed over the council’s approach to finding £46 million of savings over three years.

It says Falkirk urgently needs to identify and agree its key priorities supported by a more robust approach to financial planning.

In his findings, published today (Thursday), Accounts Commissioner Douglas Sinclair said: “All councils need to get to grips with looming budget shortfalls over the next three years, but Falkirk has been slow to realise the scale of what is required and make effective plans.

“It must now grasp the nettle and meet the challenges it faces through strong leadership, both from councillors and its management team.”

Councillor Craig Martin, leader of the Labour-led administration, said: “The report has stated where progress is being made across a number of areas, however we recognise more can be done to improve.

“Falkirk Council is fully aware of its responsibilities. We are proud to say it has a reputation across local government for being financially prudent and I believe our financial performance stands up to scrutiny.

“Like many other local authorities we are facing the most challenging times, but we are pushing ahead with changes that will make a significant difference to how we deliver services to our communities.”

Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, SNP Group leader, claimed: “The inspection was thorough and the findings were clear – there is more to be done. We are determined to work to ensure this happens and deliver the best outcomes for our communities.”