Stirling Council to publish draft budget report in wake of £25m shortfall
A draft report outlining proposed changes to the way Stirling Council delivers its services in the face of challenging financial circumstances is set to be published today.
The local authority is facing a budget shortfall of over £25 million over the next five years.
Council leader Johanna Boyd explained that there are tough choices to be made ahead: “Everyone knows how challenging the last few years have been financially, and that the position is only going to get tougher as we go forward.
“The squeeze in public spending at the same time as demand for services is rising puts us in an impossible position – this is common across Scotland, as recent announcements by other councils have shown.
“In Stirling’s case, if we do nothing, then by 2020/21 we face a budget shortfall in excess of £25 million.
“We cannot find ourselves in that position and we have already done much to address the funding gap, working with our communities to identify savings of £12m over the last two years.
“Much more still needs done at a national level including taking a hard look at how local government is financed. Council Tax accounts for just under a fifth of Stirling Council’s income, with very few powers to raise further funds, but internationally it’s common practice for local authorities to raise much more of their budget from a range of local taxes – in Berlin the figure is nearly 40 per cent, while in Paris it’s 82.5 per cent.
“Studies also show that giving councils greater tax autonomy brings significant benefits, including more efficient spending behaviour.
“It’s a discussion we need to have as the whole shape of local authority government is having to change to meet the challenges we face.
“The options set out in our Draft Budget Report detail ideas about how we can transform the way the council works to deliver services so that we can retain as much as possible of what we currently do, but there’s no hiding the fact that the scale of the financial challenge means an inevitable impact on both services and staff.
“We want to work with communities to identify and then protect the services that are most important to them and I would urge people to engage with the process now to ensure their views are heard.”
The report will be published on the council website from today and will form the basis for discussion between members of the public, council officers and elected members later this month.
A series of discussion events were held in September to gather views and ideas from members of the public that have helped inform the proposals now contained in the draft report.
A further round of Community Conversations open to all to discuss these more detailed proposals will now be held as follows: