Aberdeenshire approves £60m housing spend in 2016/17 budget

Aberdeenshire CouncilA total of £60 million is to be invested into housing in Aberdeenshire as councillors agreed its budgets for the year ahead.

A budget of almost £700m of funding for local services was agreed at a meeting of full council yesterday, including £533m for revenue and £100m for capital programmes.

Another £46m will be held in reserves after being earmarked by councillors for specific projects and priorities, including £5m being set aside for regeneration, £4m for affordable housing, £2m on renewable energy, £5m for the City Region Deal and £1m for capital projects.

In order to receive the total funding announced through the Scottish Government financial settlement for 2016/17, councillors formally supported the funding package and conditions which will see an additional £250m transfer from NHS to health and social care partnerships; to maintain teacher numbers at 2015 levels nationally and secure places for all probationers who require one under the teacher induction scheme; and to freeze council tax for a ninth year.

Aberdeenshire Council’s revenue funding has reduced by 1.45 per cent, the lowest reduction in percentage terms for a Scottish Local Authority, or £6.39m for 2016/17. This compares with a national average reduction of 3.9 per cent.

Councillors were told that savings of £28m had been identified for the year ahead by taking a more business-focused approach to running local services. The savings package includes increased charges for some services, more efficient ways of delivering services, management and administrative reviews, shared services, better procurement, investment in technology and the rationalisation and disposal of council buildings.

Co-Leader Cllr Richard Thomson stressed the significant budget that the council has to deliver public services in Aberdeenshire.

He said: “We are investing almost £700m into local services, with an ambitious Capital Plan, continuation of the excellent local services we provide and for 2016/17 we are committed to making progress towards the delivery of our priorities.

“This includes investment in active travel, building more affordable homes, the Aberdeen City Region Deal, climate change, estate rationalisation, regeneration and a new community campus at Peterhead.”

Recommending the Housing Revenue Account, Cllr Anne Allan highlighted the commitment to meet the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing and the new initiatives to tackle the housing shortage in the region.

She said: “We achieved Scottish Housing Quality Standard by March 2015 and our house modernisation programme continues apace. We are forecasting spend of over £27m in the current year on capital projects including replacement kitchens, bathrooms, windows/doors heating systems and insulation projects. We are also progressing new build housing developments at Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Inverurie.

“We remain hopeful following recent Government announcements on the City Region Deal and additional funding from the Scottish Government that, in conjunction with our partners, we can identify further opportunities to deliver more affordable housing.”

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