East Lothian Council

New Council Budget approved

Published Tuesday 10th February 15

Benefits and arrears

Special Council meeting held on Tuesday 10 February

The special East Lothian Council meeting held on 10 February has approved the Council’s spending plans for the next three years.

The main headlines in the 2015/16 budget are:  

·       Council tax bills in East Lothian for 2015/16 will be frozen for the eighth year in a row.  The Band D council tax level will remain at £1,117.62 – this is equivalent to only £3.06 per day

·       Corporate income, which includes Council Tax proceeds and Scottish Government Grant will increase by 1.6% to almost £222.5m.  Most of the grant increase is  related to new burdens such as Free School meals and the Children and Young People Act

·       After adjustments in the way employers’ superannuation contributions to Lothian Pension Fund is accounted for, spending on council services will increase by 2.8% to just over £200m. 

·       The Resources and People Services budget which includes Children’s wellbeing. Education and school budgets, increases by 2.74% to £106.963m

·       The Health and Social Care Partnership budget increases by 3.25% to £45.838m

·       The Partnerships and Community Services budget increases by 2.57% to £47.261m

·       A significant part of these increases is required to meet increases in pay costs and Local Government Pension contributions 

·       Additional funding to meet new legislative requirements and for some key priority areas including:

A total of £600,000 additional investment in children’s wellbeing services to meet a range of pressures - £371,000 added to the base budget in 2014/15 and £229,000 added to the 2015/16 budget

£350,000 additional funding to meet the cost of additional pre-school/ nursery provision

£900,000 to meet the cost of providing Free School Meals to all P1-P3 children (£376,000 added to the base budget in 2014/15 and a further £524,000 added to the 2015/16 budget)

Almost £900,000 additional investment in adult wellbeing services to meet a range of pressures such as the increasing demand for services and the cost of providing care services and to rescind the decision taken last year to raise income from new charges

£100,000 for graduate training places

£100,000 additional funding for supported bus services

£150,000 additional partnership funding to support voluntary and community organisations

·       A three-year General Services capital programme totalling £71.308m over three years (2015/16 – 2017/18)

·       A 5% increase in Council House rents which will be invested in servicing a larger capital programme to speed up the modernisation programme and build new affordable housing through a housing capital programme totalling over £116m over the next five years (2015/16 – 2019/20).  In addition over £40m will be spent on council house repairs during this period.

In moving approval of the Administration’s budget Council Leader, Councillor Willie Innes said:

“I am pleased that despite the continuing difficult financial circumstances faced by the Council we have been able to set a budget that protects vital council services and injects much needed additional funding into key priority areas.”

“The difficult decisions taken over the last two years, including the Voluntary Early Release Scheme, tight control on employee costs and the capital budget and savings across most services has allowed us to meet next year’s pressures whilst minimising the impact on front-line services.

“However, the Council continues to face some very difficult financial challenges as a result of real terms reductions in the income it will receive from Scottish Government, our growing population with increasing numbers of young and old people leading to increased demand for early years care and elderly care, unfunded general price inflation, upward pressures on pay, national insurance and superannuation cost increases.”

“Despite these pressures we remain committed to delivering the key priorities set out in the Council Plan. I am particularly pleased that we have been able to provide an additional £1m funding to meet a range of pressures in Adult and Children’s social care in the coming year, £100,000 to provide training places for young graduates and an additional £150,000 in grants for voluntary and community organisations that provide valuable services to our communities including Dad’s Work, First Step and Haddington Boxing Club.”

Councillor Innes concluded:

“I’m also very pleased that we have been able to confirm our commitment to key capital projects over the coming three years, including Haddington Day Centre, Prestongrange Museum, Whitecraig Community Centre. We are also maintaining investment in maintaining council properties and schools and corporate IT provision as well as coastal and flood protection.”

In supporting the motion to approve the Administration’s budget, the Council Depute Leader, Councillor Michael Veitch said:

“The Council has had to make some difficult decisions in order to live within its means and set a balanced budget which protects services. Our priority has been to ensure we provide stability and maintain the vital services on which people rely. We are investing resources in line with our Council Plan priorities to improve local transport, support communities and local businesses, town centre regeneration and maintain expenditure on our roads network. I particularly welcome the additional revenue funding for supported bus service and the capital funding for car park improvements. This is a budget that will be welcomed by Council staff, our communities and local businesses.”

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