South Ayrshire Council agrees multi-million pound budget

A £186 million revenue budget for 2018/19 and eight-year £237m capital programme 2018/19-2025/26 have been agreed as councillors approved spending plans for South Ayrshire.

The budgets will support the delivery of the new Council Plan – also agreed yesterday – which sets out the difference South Ayrshire Council wants to make for the people of the region.

In agreeing the budget, councillors approved a Council Tax increase of 3 per cent, which will raise Council Tax for a Band D property in South Ayrshire by £35.66 – or around 69p per week – to £1,224.23.

The £53.8 million this raises will help fund and protect council services over the next year.

Councillors used feedback from this year’s ‘Balancing the Budget’ consultation to determine funding priorities as well as areas for efficiencies.

A number of savings proposals were removed from consideration ahead of yesterday’s budget meeting as a direct result of the consultation responses and the better than expected grant funding settlement from the Scottish Government, which not only maintained funding levels, but included additional monies for social care.

This has resulted in councillors agreeing further budget savings of almost £3.7m, bringing the total to just under £6m. These are mainly based around reviewing work processes, revising staffing structures and changing financing arrangements – minimising the impact on frontline services, people and communities.

The budget also includes additional investment in key areas that support the Council’s vision for Our People, Our Place. This includes:

  • Increasing the school clothing grant by 50% to £75 pounds (£66,000)
  • £65,000 to support the schools at the heart of the community project and to provide additional holiday activities for schools in the most socially-disadvantaged areas
  • £20,000 to reinstate a fund to support community galas
  • £17,000 to cover the letting costs for breakfast clubs in our schools
  • Supporting the development of place plans for the five towns and villages programme, with £100,000 for improved signage and community engagement
  • £75,000 to support staff training and retraining initiatives to ensure the council can deliver the right services in the best possible way.
  • Councillors agreed the use of £1.5m of uncommitted reserves for revenue spending, and a further £3m from uncommitted reserves split evenly between the Repairs and Renewals Fund and the Capital Fund.

    They also approved funding of £71m pounds for the South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership, which is an increase of 2.5% on previous years.

    Council leader Douglas Campbell said: “What we have agreed today is an unprecedented budget for this Council – a budget that has been shaped by our people, for our people.

    “It’s the outcome of consultation and engagement with thousands of people across South Ayrshire who took the time to have their say – and who we have listened and responded to. As a result, this budget genuinely balances the resources we have with the services and facilities people want and need, and I want to thank those people for their participation.

    “From the outset last year, we have been clear as an administration about what matters to us and that is our people and our places. They sit at the heart of everything we do and the ambitions we have not just for the Council, but for the whole South Ayrshire area.

    “We want South Ayrshire to be the best it can be and for all people and places to have the opportunity to reach their full potential and, through this budget, we are laying the foundations for a strengthened South Ayrshire that works for all, but especially the most in need.

    “I’m pleased we have addressed the restrictions of the current financial climate head-on, while taking steps to ensure the impact and burden of balancing the budget doesn’t fall on those least able to pay.

    “That’s not been easy, and we’ve had to do this while meeting necessary costs like pay awards for staff and increased contractual costs – all of which impacts on how much we have to spend.

    “That’s why we can be proud that we have agreed a balanced budget today that not only bridges the challenging budget gap we’ve had to meet, but also provides an ambitious programme of investment that will improve lives and make a difference where it matters most.

    “This budget invests in our vision, in our people, and in our places to create a strong, sustainable South Ayrshire – and that’s something we all want to see.”

    At the council meeting, a new eight-year capital investment programme – which sets out total investment of almost £237m until 2025/26 – was also agreed.

    Key features of the programme include:

    • More than £43m strategic investment in ICT
    • An additional £12m for a new ‘all-through’ campus at Carrick Academy, taking the budget to more than £19m as part of a total investment package of more than £74m in the education estate
    • £3m more in 2018/19 for road reconstruction and improvement
    • £1m to support Maybole town centre regeneration
    • £750,000 to support the implementation of 20 mile per hour speed limits in towns and villages
    • £855,000 to improve public toilet provision.
    • Full details of the budget can be found here.

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