Covid recovery at heart of North Lanarkshire Council’s budget
North Lanarkshire Council said a range of investments to support people and communities through Covid recovery and the cost-of-living challenge have been from and centre of the approval of its budget for the upcoming year.
The council’s Recover NL programme has been boosted by nearly £13 million across a range of areas.
There will be a £1m invested in culture and leisure facilities, as well as extensions to programmes which see those over 60 able to access membership for £50 and active teens get free membership access to leisure during the week, as well as free provision of sport and leisure facilities for care experienced young people.
Recognising the benefits of outdoor exercise, £2.2m will be spent upgrading existing grass pitches to synthetic and replacing some existing synthetic pitches reaching the end of their life.
As more people are encouraged to walk to school, £2.1m will be invested in mandatory 20mph speed limits around schools and early learning centres, with £1.4m of infrastructure and footpath improvements to cemeteries and £700,000 in parks and other green spaces.
Those most in need of financial support will benefit from an additional £500,000 top-up to the Scottish Welfare Fund budget to provide crisis and community care grants, a £100 grant for pensioners on low incomes to help with fuel bill rises and the continuation of enhanced grants for school and early years clothing.
In a further boost for young people, the proportion of Scottish Attainment Fund money lost through changes to the Scottish Government budget will be reinstated for a year by the council.
Delivering the council’s bold ambition for town centres was also central to the budget, with confirmation that a previous commitment of a 1% council tax rise for the groundbreaking Community Investment Fund would continue alongside a one-off additional £1m for other town investments.
Recognising the challenges around cost of living, the council limited the council tax rise to 3%, well below inflation.
Council leader Jim Logue, who proposed the budget motion, said: “There’s no doubt that our priority has been supporting people and communities, both with continued recovery from the impacts of Covid and in helping where we can with the challenge of the cost of living, particularly for the most vulnerable people.
“I believe this budget does that, while ensuring that our bold ambition and vision for North Lanarkshire continue to be funded.
“Key to North Lanarkshire’s recovery from Covid is a real appetite for healthier lifestyles and use of outdoor spaces, and we are supporting that recovery by building on the success of Active Teens and Active 60, while continuing to invest in our already excellent facilities.
“Our track record is exceptional, with one of the fastest-growing local economies, more than 4000 additional jobs created since 2016 and transformational investment in housing and towns. This budget reinforces our approach.
“It is undoubtedly the case that we would have liked to have more money to invest in communities, but I strongly believe that our excellent financial stewardship has put us in as strong a position as possible while ensuring we can keep council tax rises well below inflation.”