East Ayrshire Council maintains ‘strong performance’ but faces ‘major financial challenge’

The local authority watchdog has reported that East Ayrshire Council is continuing to improve against a backdrop of financial, social and economic challenges.

In a report out today, the Accounts Commission highlighted that East Ayrshire Council is performing well, services are improving, and there is strong partnership working.

The council has maintained the strong performance reported in previous audits in 2006 and 2010 and the majority of services are improving, it added.

The report stated: “The council has strong leadership, together with effective partnership working. Councillors, council staff and partner organisations are committed to working together, as well as working with, and empowering, local communities.”

East Ayrshire Council faces a significant budget shortfall over the next five years, with an estimated budget gap of £55 million. Managing the change needed to bridge this gap will be a major challenge for the council, the Accounts Commission said.

The council is also acting to address challenges in some service areas, such as employment and planning, but has more work to do. Working with the business community to support and develop a more sustainable local economy will be critical in providing more local jobs and opportunities, the watchdog added.

Ronnie Hinds, deputy chair of the Accounts Commission, said: “The Commission is impressed by the continued improvements made to services across East Ayrshire, and the commitment of the council, partner organisations and residents.

“Faced with a substantial budget gap over the next five years, challenging levels of deprivation and changes in the make-up of its population, the council must now focus on realising significant transformation in the delivery of services. With an already strong record of partnership working and improvement, East Ayrshire Council is well-placed to tackle the necessary changes.”

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