Scottish Borders Council predicts balanced budget despite increasing challenges
Scottish Borders Council will today report that it expects to once again deliver a balanced budget this year, despite some increasing pressures.
The report, the latest in a series of regular updates on the current budget to its executive committee, highlights that due to unexpected pressures in health and social care the council is proposing a range of budget transfers to deliver a balanced position at the end of the financial year.
Councillor Robin Tatler, executive member for finance, said: “Since the last report to the committee in August a significant financial challenge of £2.5m has arisen, largely due to more people requiring more complex care than was predicted when the budget was set last February.
“Through underspends in some services and income from other areas we will be able to minimise the impact on the overall revenue budget and remain confident of achieving a balanced position come the end of March.
“However, this does emphasise just how challenging it has become for the council, like other local authorities, to continue to balance our books when demand for services continues to grow. In the Borders, there are particular demographic pressures which will only increase year-on-year too.”
The revenue budget monitoring report also provides an update to councillors on the delivery of savings in line with the agreed 2019/20 budget.
This shows that 62% have been achieved already on a permanent basis, with 17% more made temporarily, and the remainder on track for delivery before the end of the financial year.
Councillor Tatler added: “At the half way stage of the financial year it is extremely positive to see that 79 per cent of the £13m savings required this year have been delivered, with just 17 per cent of that done on a temporary basis.
“Thanks to excellent financial management over many years, Scottish Borders Council has continued to deliver balanced budgets while still investing in new facilities and delivering high-quality services for residents, but the financial challenge will not go away and we need our residents and communities to play their part. You can start by telling us what your local service priorities are by completing our budget simulator here.
“We need to do things differently, so it is vital that we get residents’ views on how people 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.”