East Lothian councillors have agreed a financial strategy for the next five years.

The strategy aims to maintain essential council services in a challenging financial climate while East Lothian is one of the fastest areas of population grown in Scotland.

In addition to these challenges, councillors heard that there continues to be uncertainty around the potential economic impact of Brexit.

The strategy has been developed to provide clear direction on how the council will manage its financial resources in the medium to long term to ensure they are used effectively to maintain key objectives.

Council Leader Willie Innes said: “It’s important that our residents fully understand the council’s financial position and the challenges we face – but equally important that they can see that we are operating under sound financial stewardship to protect essential services.

“We are looking at reduced budgets while facing the fact that by 2037 the population of East Lothian will rise by around 17,000, which includes a doubling of the number of those aged 75 and over and a 15% growth of the number of children under the age of 15.

“While some financial impacts are difficult to predict, we do know that Scottish Government priorities going forward include greater spending on health, early learning and childcare, higher education and social security.

“With the amount of funding we receive from central government expected to fall in real terms, it’s important that we continue to focus on sound financial planning.”

The financial strategy sits alongside other long-term council plans including the Council Plan itself which sets the policy direction for the council – our vision for an even more prosperous, safe and sustainable East Lothian with a dynamic and thriving economy that enables our people and communities to flourish. The Local Development Plan also sets out a strategy for accommodating more homes to cope with the predicted population increase alongside a strategy for sustainable development of the accompanying infrastructure.

The council will continue to work with the community and wider planning partners to do all that it can to maximise and enhance service delivery within the resources that are available, however it is inevitable that some difficult decisions will need to be made to balance budgets and protect core services.

A public consultation has been launched ahead of councillors meeting in February to agree the council’s 2019/20 spending plans. The closing date for responses is Monday 24th December.

Published: Friday, 14th December 2018