Residents are being encouraged to have their say on how the council spends money to support local services.
A newly-launched public budget consultation gives people the opportunity to answer questions and air their views before the council sets its budget for 2018/19.
Depute Council Leader Norman Hampshire said:
“As a council, we have continued to defend and protect the vital public services which so many people across East Lothian rely on. At all times, our priority is to continue delivering for the people of East Lothian. Whether it’s helping our children achieve their potential, supporting older and vulnerable people, protecting the environment or building an increasingly sustainable economy, we want to make East Lothian the best county it can be for all those who live and work here.
Yet at a time when demand for services has increased, we’ve already seen a reduction in the amount of central government funding available to us – which makes up more than 70% of our budget. Like many other councils we face further – and significant - reductions in government grant funding. Council officers anticipate that we will need to make savings of around £39 million over the next five years. We’re awaiting news of how much money we will receive from the Scottish Government next year. Indications suggest that a significant reduction in funding is likely and therefore there are real challenges ahead.
The consultation presents some possible options from council officers which would help us to address the challenges posed by reductions in the amount of funding available to us, while at the same time focusing on our priorities and protecting the most vulnerable in our communities. We are, for example, looking at new ways of raising revenue and running services. We are also looking at how the council best manages the growing demand for some services, while focusing on prevention and early intervention.
It is important to stress that no decisions have been made and work is continuing to identify savings. However, the options highlight the kind of challenges and tough choices faced by councillors across Scotland. It’s absolutely vital that we hear from the residents we serve at this time.”
The budget consultation follows a number of focus groups with local people, drawing upon members of our Citizens Panel and respondents to the residents survey. These have provided the council with invaluable feedback and, based on this, the online consultation has now been launched and can be accessed at: https://eastlothianconsultations.co.uk/policy-partnerships/east-lothian-council-public-budget-consultation-20/