East Dunbartonshire Council ‘needs to save needs to save £23.3m in three years’
East Dunbartonshire Council risks the long-term sustainability of its services if it does not close the gap between the council’s ambitions and delivering these on the ground, the local government spending watchdog has warned.
In a report published today, the Accounts Commission says the council delivers a good standard of services but there is an increased risk of these not being maintained in the longer term without improvements in the way it is run.
The report states: “Principally, the council urgently needs to have clearer priorities in its transformation programme, in order to ensure that critical projects are delivered and the anticipated savings and benefits are realised.”
The council needs to save £23.3 million - around ten per cent of its budget - over the three years to 2017/18. At the same time its overall financial reserves are low and are projected to fall further.
Deficiencies include financial control and management of resources. There is also an urgent need for clearer priorities in the council’s transformation programme to ensure key projects are delivered and bring savings and benefits.
Although recognising the council’s commitment to improvement, the Commission says it has serious concerns about the pace of this improvement. New scrutiny arrangements are ineffective in operation. Councillors should specify what information they need and be provided with jargon-free and understandable reports so that they can hold officers to account.
Accounts Commission chair Douglas Sinclair said: “There is a gap between the council’s ambition and seeing evidence of that on the ground. This is what East Dunbartonshire needs to address if it is to continue to deliver good quality services in the future.”
The Commission has asked the Controller of Audit for an update on the council’s progress by the end of 2016.