East Lothian Council

Council approves budget aimed at protecting front line services

Published Tuesday 9th February 16

Photo - Scottish pound notes

Council approves budget

Despite a significant reduction in Scottish government grant East Lothian Council has announced that spending on key services such as schools and social care will be protected in their 2016/17 budget. Council tax levels are also to be frozen for a ninth consecutive year.

The 2016/17 budget will be balanced by the transfer of £3 million from reserves.

At a special meeting of the full Council held on Tuesday 9 February, councillors also approved £600,000 in additional investment to Area Partnerships to support initiatives that will raise attainment and achievement in schools and investment of £2.37 million over the next three years in coastal protection and flooding measures.

Spending on Education will increase across the board with an additional £1.4 million to primary schools and £840,000 to secondary schools. Investment of £150,000 to be made over the next three years to support school based therapeutic counselling services into more primary schools across the county.

To support the growth of the economy in East Lothian the Council will invest £8million over the next three years. This investment will focus on land acquisition, infrastructure, broadband, town centre re-generation and the City Region Deal.

The Council’s capital spending programme has been significantly extended recognising and providing the enabling infrastructure required to support the extensive programme of housing development across the county, with no reductions in key community projects already approved. £100 million in capital investment is planned over the next three years on projects which include the building of new primary schools at Letham, Haddington and Wallyford, major extension to Dunbar Grammar and improvements to community facilities including Port Seton Sports Hall, Prestongrange Museum, Whitecraig Community Centre and the Red School, Prestonpans.

Addressing the longer term funding shortfall, savings of around £1.2 m are to be made in the Council’s staffing budget over the next three years through the continued application of efficient workforce management plan and the re-design of some services through an enhanced  programme of transformational change.

The Council will continue to manage costs down in other ways. Joint working with a range of partner agencies including NHS Lothian, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Services will consider mutual cost efficiencies through redesign of services and sharing accommodation.

East Lothian Council Leader, Councillor Willie Innes said:

“In common with other local authorities across the country, East Lothian Council is facing serious financial challenges in the years ahead as a result of unacceptable cuts imposed by the Scottish Government. In the short term we are balancing the coming year’s budget through the use of reserves, which is effectively returning unused funds in both the previous and current financial year, that has been made possible through good financial stewardship of the council’s resources.

“Through the sound financial management of the Council finances over the past three years, we are able to be in a position where we can protect vital public services and jobs.  Our budget will enable us to invest in the county’s future through increased provision for education and promoting the local economy. The challenges placed upon the council by an increasing population are recognised with the need to balance required infrastructure whilst retaining the unique identity of our local communities. We are continuing to provide increased opportunities for local communities to be involved in major decision making through the Area Partnerships and an addition £100,000, has been made available to each of the six school cluster areas.

“Local residents expect the council to protect front line services and I strongly believe our agreed budget will continue to support our communities and protect the most vulnerable from the austerity measures being imposed upon us.”

Depute Council Leader, Councillor Michael Veitch, added:

“This year’s budget has been very challenging and has necessitated some hard choices as we attempt to protect services while keeping costs down. Despite the financial challenges, there is much to welcome, such as the proposed £1.5 million investment in town centre re-generation and growing the economy over the next three years, £600,000 allocated to parking improvements and the very high level of capital investment earmarked for the county’s roads, totalling some £16 million. Despite the pressure on our budget this year, valuable services have been protected, and I’m confident that East Lothian will continue to enjoy the quality level of services and facilities to which we have become accustomed.”

More articles in the news archive.

Get this feed East Lothian Council news feed | About RSS.

East Lothian Council, John Muir House Brewery Park Haddington East Lothian EH41 3HA.