Council backs budget to protect vital services, support communities and boost economy
Published Tuesday 21st February 17
Spending on vital local services including education and support for vulnerable people will continue to be protected by East Lothian Council, despite a further reduction in the Revenue Support Grant received from the Scottish Government.
Councillors today agreed a budget which, in a challenging financial environment, will deliver significant benefits for local communities. This includes a major investment of £169 million in capital projects across the county.
Resources have been allocated for new schools, adults and children, affordable homes and transport initiatives, including:
- Around £97 million of investment over three years towards new, upgraded or expanded schools – including the new Wallyford and Letham primary schools, an additional secondary school for the Musselburgh area and an extension to Dunbar Grammar School
- £9.8 million of investment over three years for initiatives to help accelerate economic growth in the county
- A five-year, £85 million council housing programme coupled with almost £59 million of investment in housing modernisation and extensions
- An £100,000 initiative to explore options to assist people with low cost home ownership
- An additional investment of £1.8million in adult services and a further £300,000 in children’s services
- £1.5 million of the council’s total contribution of £3.44 million towards development of the new East Linton railway station
- A £5.5 million investment in upgrades to IT systems in schools and across the council
- A number of investments in community facilities including synthetic pitches and sports facilities, £1.1 million for Whitecraig Community Centre, £1.1 million for a new Port Seton Sports Hall and an £850,000 upgrade of Haddington Corn Exchange
The council’s spending plans are firmly focused on maintaining high-quality public services while managing finances prudently in the face of a £2.9 million reduction in the Revenue Support Grant received from the Scottish Government – which makes up the bulk of the council’s income.
To achieve a balanced budget the council will use £2.5 million of its reserves. Savings of around £1.85 million will be made in the council’s staffing budget over the next three years in addition to a transformational change programme which will realise efficiencies of around £2.4 million.
For the first time since 2008-09, East Lothian Council has decided to increase Council Tax. As a result of this decision, all households will pay an additional 3%. Separately, the Scottish Government has increased the level of Council Tax across the highest banded properties – E to H.
Council Leader Willie Innes said:
“The last five years has proven to be one of the most challenging periods faced by East Lothian Council. As demand for our essential services has increased, the amount of Scottish Government funding available to us has continued to fall. My focus throughout this period has been on defending and protecting the vital public services upon which so many people across our county rely on.
“And this is reflected in our newly-agreed budget which, despite the financial challenges encountered, is all about delivering for East Lothian – helping our children achieve their potential, supporting older and vulnerable people, protecting the environment and building an increasingly sustainable economy.
“We are doing so by investing in new and upgraded schools, community facilities, a significant affordable housing programme and a raft of initiatives geared towards enhancing the economy and infrastructure of East Lothian. It is about making East Lothian the best it can be – for the benefit of all who live and work here.”
Depute Council Leader Michael Veitch said:
“While this has been another challenging budget requiring difficult choices, it enables us to protect services while continuing to manage the council’s finances sensibly.
“I particularly welcome our commitment to infrastructure investment – with a significant capital spending programme worth some £169 million. As well as extensions or the building of new schools at the heart of communities, I’m pleased that we’re investing in East Lothian’s network of roads and, of course, progressing with a new rail station at East Linton – recognising that public transport has an important role to play in keeping the county moving.
“This is a budget which, despite the very real challenges faced, reflects the ambitions of a council determined to maintain the very high level of valuable services and facilities, which the people of East Lothian rightly expect.”
Council tax charges 2017/18
|Council Tax Band A £767.43||Council Tax Band E £1,512.48|
|Council Tax Band B £895.34||Council Tax Band F £1,870.62|
|Council Tax Band C £1,023.24||Council Tax Band G £2,254.33|
|Council Tax Band D £1,151.15||Council Tax Band H £2,820.31|
(Excludes water and waste water charges set by Scottish Water in 2017/18)
Council Tax is expected to generate around £54 million – around 23% of East Lothian Council’s budget of around £233 million.
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