Midlothian Council expected to save more than £7m with new financial strategy
Midlothian Council is expected to save more than £7 million after councillors agreed its first Medium Term Financial Strategy.
The council said the move is a “major step change” aimed at strengthening financial sustainability and allowing it to plan and implement service delivery more effectively.
Council leader Councillor Derek Milligan said: “A Medium Term Financial Strategy is a major step change and will give us the financial stability to be able to plan ahead and invest in Midlothian to make sure it really is a ‘great place to grow’.
“That said, we’ve got a lot of further work to do to address the financial and service challenges over the next three years. There will continue to be difficult decisions in the coming months.
“We realise that some of the proposals put forward by officers were causing a lot of concerns among local people, such as the move to cut school transport arrangements and how music tuition is provided in our schools. We’ve listened and we will be coming back out to speak to local people.”
Agreed at the full council meeting on Tuesday, the Medium Term Financial Strategy sets out a range of changes to how services will be delivered. The measures include reviewing the council’s senior management structure, reducing management costs to protect frontline services and generating income by, for example, pushing ahead with plans to turn Midlothian Snowsports Centre into an all-year-round leisure destination.
However, councillors agreed the recommendations made by the six member Business Transformation Steering Group that other changes proposed in the report would be subject to further public consultation.
The decision sets out how the council will bridge the projected funding gap of £4.6m for 2020/21 and goes a significant way to addressing the projected funding gap of £18.8m predicted by 2022.23. The projected funding gaps assume Scottish Government core funding to the council will be reduce by 2% each year. This is a planning assumption unanimously approved by the cross party Business Transformation Steering Group.
A further update on the Medium Term Financial Strategy, which focuses savings around four core themes - One Council, Preventative and Sustainable, Efficient and Modern and Innovative and Ambitious - will be brought before the full council in October.
Cllr Milligan added: “We are shaping our plans to take account of local people’s views whenever possible.
“While we’re committed to place individuals and communities at the heart of everything we do, we can’t stress enough that we still have some really difficult choices ahead especially given we’re planning for a 2% cut in Scottish Government funding.
“We will continue to invest in preventative approaches to reduce inequality. We’ll also automate and simplify our processes, making them more customer-focussed while looking at where we can work in partnership with other agencies and authorities.”