Home » latest » Borders council endorses £10m raid on ‘rainy day fund’
borders council endorses £10m raid on rainy day fund

Borders council endorses £10m raid on ‘rainy day fund’

The money will come from the council’s financial reserves to meet a shortfall in funding for the year ahead. The decision will give the local authority time to engage with communities over the next 12 months to shape future service plans which will deliver essential permanent savings through its ongoing transformation programme. Although council tax is being frozen for the year ahead, Borderers face a potential 10 per cent increase in the levy for 2025/26, it has emerged. Despite the £10m from reserves, savings of £4.4m will still be required in 2024/25. The revenue and capital budget proposals for 2024/25 had been developed by a cross-party group of councillors, which is set to continue its work over the next year with a view to identifying savings of at least £5m for 2025/26. COSLA announced a national cash reduction to local authority funding of £62.7m in revenue and £54.9m in capital. These reductions, with ongoing ring fencing, means the council does not have enough money to deliver all the local services people want to the standards they require. The endorsed increases are in response to significant financial pressures, including inflationary pressures of £6.7m, which leave the council in the stark position of having to both increase council tax rates and make permanent service reductions in the future to balance the books. On Thursday, members of SBC agreed the cross-party budget “which commits to the delivery of planned projects and largely protects frontline services, despite continued rising costs”. As part of the 2024/25 budget there will be: £121.6million invested in major capital projects, including new schools and care facilities, as part of a 10-year capital plan worth over £450m Extra funding allocated to local sport and leisure trusts, to the public transport network and to support young people with additional care needs Funding to retain one police Community Action Team Additional funding to manage increasing demand within social care ‘Significant’ investment into roads and transport infrastructure Over the next 12 months the council will be engaging with residents to identify service changes which will deliver permanent cost reductions and help to address the ongoing financial challenges posed by huge inflationary impacts and static government funding. Councillor Mark Rowley, SBC’s executive member for service delivery and transformation, said: “Although we’ve been faced with some tough choices about what we prioritise, we are being ambitious and remain committed to some significant projects. “With hugely increased construction costs it would have been quite easy this year to revisit our capital project plans, but we’ve not done that. We’ve also taken on board the feedback from over 2,000 people and protected or provided additional funds in key priority areas, such as local services, public transport, roads, the local economy and community safety. “On top of the £84m savings already made over the past 10 years we do need to make further transformational changes which reduce our costs though. Whilst inflation is slowing, costs and demands are still increasing, and are on top of significantly higher increases over a sustained period of time, so the pressure on our funds is unrelenting.” Councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol, leader of the SNP and Green group, said: “The council is here to deliver services for all Borderers, from the day they are born to the day they depart us. With continued financial pressures it is now about how we do that with less money, but still do it well and ensure that people are safe and supported. “This budget gives us some headspace to consider potential changes and the time to go out to communities and be open and transparent about the costs of our services, including those we have to provide legally, and the options we have to deliver things differently.” Councillor Euan Robson, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, added: “This budget allows us a year to engage with communities to consider decisions, some of which may be very difficult, but which will assist in securing the financial sustainability of the council in future years. “The cross-party consensus arrived at around this budget is positive and will hopefully continue, and be replicated at individual ward level, as new service delivery plans are developed for 2025/26 and beyond.” Tweeddale East councillor Robin Tatler, leader of the independent group, said: “It is a hard, hard journey we are going on, but it is the only way we can continue to deliver the services we have to and those which are priorities for our communities. “One example of what we need to consider is the council’s large property estate. Anything we can do to reduce that brings in funds from the sale of property and also reduces the ongoing costs.”

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Verified by MonsterInsights