Scottish Borders Council launches council budget consultation

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) has launched a consultation to help inform the upcoming budget which will be set in February 2020.

Scottish Borders Council launches council budget consultation

Shona Haslam and Robin Tatler

From now until the end of January, members of the public can participate in a new online points simulator tool, available here.

Shona Haslam, council leader and councillor, said: “There is no denying it is very difficult to balance the books every year especially when we have increased demand for services, an increasingly older population and services spread across such a vast rural area.

“We are currently looking at delivering savings of over £5 million every year for the next five years. That’s not going to be easy, so we need to consider where we spend money, how we do things differently and what we simply can’t deliver any more.”

She added: “The online tool we are launching will help us to understand where people in the Borders would like services protected in their own area, and will also help us to have ongoing conversations in communities about how we can do things differently and/or where there are opportunities for communities to play their part.

“We remain committed to delivering high-quality services for all our residents, from the youngest to the oldest, as well as making the most of the opportunities that the Borders has. It is not all about cost-cutting, it also means investing carefully and delivering a range of projects that support and enhance services, our towns and villages.”

Councillor Robin Tatler, executive member for finance, said: “We know everyone has different opinions around where money should be spent and we hope people can take the time to tell us where their priorities are.

“It’s an ongoing challenge when it comes to setting our budget, with a huge number of demands across a wide range of services. We remain ambitious though, and while we do have challenges we still have a five-year revenue budget of over £1.4billion and a £386million 10-year capital budget.”

He added said: “Given the challenges, we need to do things differently so it is vital that we get residents’ views on how where they would prioritise things that matter to them in their area. This does not necessarily mean we will put more money into these areas but it certainly means that we would consider protecting them. This is your chance to play #yourpart and help us to maintain services in the long term and continue to deliver vital investment and regeneration in our towns.”

The consultation tool gives people the chance to use sliders to allocate points according to how they prioritise services in their area. The points available are limited though, just like council funds, so people need to decide carefully how to use them.

The results of the consultation will be considered as part of the budget setting process to inform discussions in localities about where services should be protected and/or delivered differently.

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