Perth and Kinross agrees budget to tackle inequalities

Perth and Kinross CouncilPerth & Kinross Council has agreed a final budget for 2016/17 which signals investment of over £12.5 million to protect vulnerable people, work with communities and build upon the area’s reputation as a destination for world class events.

Including a tenth consecutive freeze on Council Tax for 2016/17, the agreed budget also reinstates £5.2m to protect front line services, and includes an additional investment of £6m across the next 3 years to make improvements to roads, structures and greenspaces.

The 2016/17 final budget protects the provision of free swimming lessons for primary school pupils, rejects additional savings for the Instrumental Music Service, maintains capacity to support clients with learning disabilities through the Supported Living Team, rejects the proposed increase of charges for bereavement services, and preserves the historic North Inch Golf Course.

In addition almost £1.7m of additional money will be used to tackle inequalities, empower local communities and grow the local economy.

An investment of £100,000 to reduce inequalities will enhance core skills in speech, language and communication support for children to help give them a better start in life, and provide a solid foundation for social, educational and career development as they grow up.

Funding will also continue towards projects to support inclusion with £22,000 for the Minority Ethnic Carers of People Project (MECoPP); £24,000 for the Minorities Communities Hub; £20,000 for the Ethnic Minorities Law Centre; £30,000 to support Strathtay Harriers’ disability athletics programme, and £10,000 for the continuation of the award winning Saints Memories project in partnership with St Johnstone in the Community and Alzheimer Scotland.

Career prospects for many Perth and Kinross residents will be improved with a further investment of £100,000 in the Career Ready programme to increase the number of young people who can benefit from the scheme; £44,000 in the coming year to continue funding for a successful pilot to provide training opportunities for vulnerable people, and £131,000 to maintain funding to continue the delivery of the council’s paid graduate job experience initiative.

Recognising that communities will have a range of local solutions to issues in their area, £100,000 will also be invested in creating a fund managed through the five new Local Community Planning Partnerships to support community projects. An additional £100,000 will be invested to increase capacity for community groups to provide local care services such as lunch clubs and meal maker schemes to support the increasing numbers of vulnerable people who wish to live independently at home.

Leader of the Administration for Perth & Kinross Council, Councillor Ian Miller, said: “The challenges we have faced in setting this budget should not be underestimated. We are in a time of unique economic circumstances, where the period of reduction in public expenditure has lasted longer than forecast and the cuts are deeper than anticipated.

“By agreeing a three-year budget today we are equipping our officers with the information and direction they need to progress with the changes required to ensure that we can provide sustainable public services for our communities into the future. Today’s budget reflects commitments made by services to modernise the way they work, procure services efficiently and manage the workforce more effectively, which will deliver almost £10m of savings as part of the council’s transformation programme.

“I would like to thank staff throughout the council who continue to show their commitment to delivering excellent services to our communities every day. Their enthusiasm, resilience and pride in their job is always heartening to witness and I am committed to ensuring that their contribution to this council’s success is recognised and that they continue to be involved, supported and encouraged to do their very best for the people of Perth and Kinross.

“This council has an enviable reputation for the delivery of first class public services which remain sustainable during this period of budget reductions. The approach agreed today means that we can still prepare for an extremely uncertain future by having 3.3 per cent of the council’s overall budget available in uncommitted reserves.

“I am immensely proud that due to our years of careful planning, our approach to transformation and change, and our focus on what is important we have been able to largely protect key frontline services and can continue to make significant investment in priority areas. I believe that this is the budget of a strong council, and a council which the people of Perth and Kinross can have confidence in.”

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