Council budget engagement enters next phase – and we want your views!
The City of Edinburgh Council today (18 January) published draft budget proposals for the next financial year, outlining savings of £41m, and its ‘Strategy for Change and Delivering Services 2019-2023’ which lays out the long-term approach to meet the changing demands on the city and its services.
At a meeting of the Finance and Resources Committee on 1 February, councillors will be asked to approve the draft 2019/20 proposals for referral to the council’s budget meeting on 21 February for a final decision – but they are being made available now to maximise the opportunity for public feedback and scrutiny.
Residents and stakeholders are being invited to give their feedback via the consultation hub and other channels until 11 February.
To aid the development of the longer-term strategy, residents were asked by the Council for their views on their priorities as part of a 10-week public engagement in the Autumn last year. The results of this are also published today.
In order to have the fullest and most up-to-date picture of the Council’s financial position, the decision was taken to await the draft of the Scottish Government budget settlement (in December) before publishing the one-year proposals.
Like all local authorities, Edinburgh must prepare for the significant financial challenges that lie ahead over the coming years – with the need to save a projected almost £150m by 2022/23 and £41m in the 2019/20 budget. A new forward-thinking approach has been developed to meet these challenges.
The proposed four-year change strategy focusses on three key objectives:
- Driving improvements to deliver the high-quality services that our citizens expect and deserve
- Targeting investment on prevention and early intervention to reduce long-term reliance on our services and allow citizens to lead active, independent lives
- Ensuring the growth of this city is sustainable and inclusive.
More specifically, the strategy commits to: over £600 million for new council homes or refurbishing and upgrading existing homes; nearly £200 million on school construction and refurbishment; at least £125 million for the city’s roads, pavements and cycle paths; and a new plan for the transformation of the city centre.
Council leader Adam McVey said: “As we grapple with the additional demands on our services, we face significant financial challenges and are faced with some tough decisions as a result. But that doesn’t mean we’ve lost our ambition for our capital city – or indeed our commitment to protect those services that we know our most vulnerable residents rely upon.
“The majority of these draft proposals relate to how we can manage the Council better and be more efficient, including reducing the cost of senior management and finding ways of maximising our income. Crucially, this approach allows us to prioritise and sustain investment in important services including homelessness, early years and education.
“I would encourage all residents to let us know what they think of the proposals either online or by speaking with their local councillor ahead of our budget meeting on 21 February.”
Depute leader Cammy Day added: “The reality is that our draft financial settlement from the Scottish Government is worse than we expected and we need to make an unprecedented level of cuts to our services. The only way to do this is by prioritising our front-line services, generating greater income and setting a fair, balanced budget which promotes inclusivity and protects the most vulnerable in society.
“That said, I call on the Scottish Government to properly resource the needs of local government and health and social care, we will continue to meet with government ministers and MSPs from across all parties to help them better understand the impact on our services and to push for a fairer and more proportionate settlement for our capital city.”