South Ayrshire Council agrees £1.6m savings as budget gets ‘more difficult’
The decision by councillors means that almost £11m of savings have now been identified for this three-year period, with a number of difficult decisions still to come – particularly with a significant reduction in the proposed funding allocation for 2016/17 from the Scottish Government.
The council had estimated a gap of more than £20m between available funding and the costs to deliver council services between 2016/17-2018/19, but this figure will now need to be revised in light of the Scottish Government’s draft budget announced on 16 December.
Amongst the agreed budget savings is a £30,000 saving by making less grant funding available to private owners through the Scheme of Assistance budget for improvement works in blocks where both council tenants and private owner-occupiers live.
Councillor Bill McIntosh, leader of the council, said: “I was encouraged by the response from our communities to our proposals for balancing our budget, which was, overall, supportive – and my thanks to everyone who took the time to put forward their views. This was an important part of our efforts to do as much as possible with the monies available to us. However, the task of trying to deliver that balanced budget is now a lot more difficult with a significant reduction in both our revenue and capital funding for the next year.
“This reduction means some very difficult decisions ahead for every one of our councillors –decisions that will undoubtedly impact on our people and communities with possible closures and cuts in services. We’re still digesting the details of our proposed funding, so we don’t yet know what it will mean in practice, but we do know it will have an effect and it will not be easy.”
Councillor Robin Reid, portfolio holder for resources and performance, added: “Getting the most out of our money and delivering best value is something we strive to achieve day in and day out. With the reduction in the funding we will receive, our ability to do that is now a great deal harder and, without a doubt, our communities will be affected in a real and significant way. We need to be realistic and up front about that while continuing to do all we can to mitigate the impact, and that’s exactly what we will do.”
Councillor John McDowall, depute leader of the council, added: “The decisions we have to take as a council will only get more and more difficult as budgets are continually cut, our costs continually rise and the demand for our support and services continues to grow. Quite simply, we can’t keep doing what we’re doing and that’s why the input from our communities is so important, as we work to deliver savings that impact on their everyday lives. My thanks to all those who let us know what they thought and I hope more and more people take part in future as increased opportunities to influence the decisions we make as the people elected to serve our communities become available.”
Details of previously agreed budget savings are available here.