East Renfrewshire Council sets Budget for 2022/23
East Renfrewshire Council has set its budget for 2022/23, which tackles the savings gap, balances the books and protects key frontline services.
Council leader Tony Buchanan outlined the spending plans for the year ahead at a meeting of the full council on Thursday 3 March.
After receiving a grant settlement from the Scottish Government of £207.7 million, the council’s budget shortfall was £9.5m.
This shortfall will be met by £2.2m of savings, using £5.2m of council reserves and increasing Council Tax by 3.5%, which will generate £2.1m of extra income.
A 3.5% Council Tax increase is significantly below the rate of inflation, and for a Band D property in East Renfrewshire will mean an annual increase of £45, the equivalent of less than £1 a week.
Council leader Tony Buchanan said: “The decision to increase Council Tax was certainly not taken lightly as everyone in the Administration is acutely aware of the cost-of-living crisis which is having such an impact on households across the country. But if we had not opted to raise Council Tax, there would have to be further reductions in funding to our schools, public infrastructure such as roads, our parks and recycling services.
“For families on low incomes - about 11% of all households in East Renfrewshire - they will not have to pay the full increase, with some households continuing to pay no council tax at all because of their circumstances. As a result, the most vulnerable people in our communities will be protected from this increase in Council Tax.”
Councillor Buchanan also praised staff for their dedication over the past two years and highlighted the additional services which are still being delivered to support Covid-related issues. These include the use of council buildings as vaccination and test centres and the distribution of Covid grants to local businesses.
Despite a tough financial climate, Councillor Buchanan also outlined the significant capital projects which the council has delivered and highlighted some of its ambitious plans for the future. He confirmed that construction of a new state-of-the-art leisure centre and theatre in Eastwood Park is expected to get under way in January 2023.
Councillor Buchanan added: “Despite the many extra Covid-related responsibilities we have taken on over the last two years, this council has continued to deliver key frontline services - ranging from home care services to refuse collection - to a very high standard. That has been a remarkable achievement at a time when our staff were as affected as anyone by the cruel realities of Covid. We have also been able to continue planning for the future; tenants will move into our latest batch of new council houses within a matter of weeks and in the next few years we will build more new schools and a new leisure centre in Eastwood.”
The opposition warned of increasingly tough times ahead for local authorities and proposed an alternative budget. Following a vote, the proposals in the budget papers were approved and will now be taken forward by the council.