In accordance with the Council’s approved budget development framework, a draft budget proposal for 2021/22 has been presented by the ruling Administration to East Lothian Council’s Cabinet.
At this point in time the expected grant settlement to the Council from central government, which provides the majority of the revenue budget, is to be confirmed.
As a result the draft budget proposals are based on a number of critical assumptions about the potential level of resources available to the Council.
The 2021-22 funding from the Scottish Government has been estimated at a level reflecting an increase of 4%, which is commensurate with the level of Scottish Government funding set out within the recent UK Government Spending Plans.
The full Council will meet on 23 February when the Housing Revenue Account budget and rent levels for council homes will be considered.
A further full Council meeting will be convened on 2 March when finalised budget proposals, including any amendments to the proposals before Cabinet, will be considered as well as the setting of council tax levels.
Depute Council Leader Norman Hampshire said:
“Our top priority remains providing the best possible quality of services to the communities of East Lothian, including giving children and young people the best possible start in life, growing our economy, tackling climate change and supporting vulnerable people.
“I know that local people, who have been extremely supportive, will appreciate that the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the severe financial challenges which have faced all local authorities for a number of years, resulting in additional costs and a reduction in income. We still seek reassurance from national governments that managing and supporting the national crisis response should be fully funded.
“We are continuing to operate in an extremely challenging financial climate and are likely to be doing so for a considerable period to come.
“That is why setting a budget and protecting the services on which people rely has never been more difficult, and it is important to be clear that we are highly likely to face further tough decisions in the months and years ahead.
“At this stage the proposals before Cabinet are about trying to protect and consolidate what we have, enabling us to continue delivering key services and keeping the Council on track at a difficult time.
“In forming these draft proposals we have factored in an anticipated increase in funding from the Scottish Government that is consistent with the uplift to the Scottish Government Budget provided by the UK Chancellor which we believe is the bare minimum necessary to protect services.
“I cannot understate how important the next few weeks will be, as we await confirmation of the local government funding settlement and look to agree a budget which delivers for East Lothian.”