Edinburgh councillors are urged to prioritise poverty and sustainability

Councillors in Edinburgh are being asked to prioritise poverty and sustainability as a means of improving residents’ wellbeing.

Edinburgh councillors are urged to prioritise poverty and sustainability

As part of the council’s four-year change strategy, which aims for a fairer and more inclusive city, a report is being brought to a meeting of the council’s finance and resources committee on Thursday, detailing year two of the strategy and the first steps of the council’s annual budget setting process.

With a specific focus on tackling poverty, promoting sustainability and improving residents’ wellbeing, the report reveals key themes based on public feedback, which are designed to guide all savings and spending decisions the city makes between now and 2023.

Launched last year as a response to the opportunities and challenges facing the city, now and in the future, the council’s Change Strategy is already transforming the way services are delivered.

It is helping the council work towards a savings target of £86.7m by 2023 while also delivering major capital projects such as new schools, much-needed affordable new housing and far-reaching improvements to the city’s transport network.

If the report is approved, work will also begin to identify and deliver specific savings of £36m in the year ahead to meet the changing demands of the city and its services.

Cammy Day, deputy leader, said: “Due to increasingly challenging budget settlements, this council has been forced to find around £300m savings since 2012 and our Change Strategy is helping us to close our budget gap even further.

“We’ve done this by consistently delivering balanced budgets, successfully improving the way we do things and investing in those services that matter most to our residents.”

He added: “We know from our engagement work that we must prioritise front-line services while supporting the most vulnerable in our communities and addressing the impacts of growth on our city.

“That’s why, as we transform our services, we’ll be focusing our energy towards creating a fairer and more inclusive future for all. A way of working which minimises poverty, promotes sustainability and prioritises well-being.”

Councillor Ellie Bird said: “When we launched our long-term plans for change last year, we embarked on a forward-thinking strategy to meet the future demands of our city and our services. Now, as we enter the second year, we’re drawing on all of the feedback we’ve received to date to identify our city’s key priorities.”

She added: “There’s no doubt in my mind that, as we go forward, we’ll continue to face challenging decisions. It’s crucial, then, that we commit early on in this process to protecting our most vulnerable citizens.

“Edinburgh is a hugely successful, growing and prosperous city but, with 80,000 people living in poverty, we must do more. This is our chance to push for a more progressive city, ensuring all residents have the opportunity to share in our city’s success.”

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