Council tax freeze announced by East Renfrewshire Council as 2021/22 budget agreed

East Renfrewshire Council has frozen council tax rates for 2021/22 as it set an outline budget for the year.

The council has benefitted from a 0.45% increase in the like for like grant settlement and additional funding for a council tax freeze from the Scottish Government, as well as the use of £3 million of reserves.

A budget shortfall of £3.5m still remains, with savings options being prepared for the next meeting of the Full Council if required.

Detailed service spending plans will be confirmed next month following the Scottish Government setting its final budget on March 9, as it is hoped that this could reduce the shortfall further still.

As the budget was agreed yesterday, staff were praised for their efforts throughout the past year, with a significant amount of additional services delivered to support communities with the impact of COVID-19.

Councillor Tony Buchanan, lead councillor, said: “The impact of COVID-19 has been felt by all of us and my thoughts are with those families who have lost loved ones through this dreadful virus. Throughout the last year, I have also been immensely proud to be leader of East Renfrewshire Council as I saw the resolve of council staff to continue going the extra mile to deliver for our residents.

“From the staff involved in introducing new services at very short notice, such as the humanitarian food hub and processing new business grants, to our colleagues who continued to work right on the frontline - the efforts have been incredible.

“As well as the terrible human costs of this virus, there has, of course, been considerable financial cost - not only to councils but to the wider economy. The additional Covid-related costs incurred by East Renfrewshire Council since last March are estimated to be around £9m.

“Despite these challenges, I am delighted that we are able to bring forward a budget with a much smaller shortfall than had been originally predicted in October 2020. Freezing Council Tax will also help to reduce household bills at a time when people are struggling from the financial consequences of Covid-19. The measures I have outlined today will ensure we continue to deliver high-quality services as well as supporting residents and the wider local economy as we recover from the hardships of coronavirus.”

As well as confirming spending on key services and savings at the additional Full Council meeting on March 15, details of the ambitious capital plans for major projects which will transform the lives of East Renfrewshire residents in the next few years will also be set out.

At the meeting on Thursday, the outline budget for 2021/22 was approved unanimously and will now be taken forward by the council.

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