Although faced with a set of constantly changing financial variables, over the last few weeks, the Council remains fully committed to its vision for a fairer, kinder, connected East Ayrshire and will continue to support its main strategic priorities:
The Council has been careful to ensure that these priorities will not be compromised by the 2020/21 budget proposals, despite having to reduce costs by £10.6 million for the coming year.
When the Council’s Transformation Strategy 2017/22 was approved in 2018, it included three-year spending budgets for each service, based on assumptions at that time. This signalled an indicative budget gap for the three years to 2021/22 of £32.205 million and since then management have been reviewing services on an ongoing basis to identify what, why, when, how and where the necessary changes can be made. Management actions have been aimed at reducing costs whilst ensuring service levels continue to be protected.
Depute Leader, Councillor Elena Whitham advised:
“I am the first to acknowledge that this is not a good financial settlement for local government but even after making the necessary savings, we will still deliver improvements to services that will bring life changing benefits to children and families across East Ayrshire.
“Our Capital programme continues to deliver for all of our communities, with over £1billion of investment in tangible assets including new and refurbished schools; new and improved council houses; significantly improved roads and bridges; investment in cultural gems like Dean Castle and the Palace Theatre; new industrial premises bringing jobs; town centre regeneration and telecare advancements to let people stay in the own homes. Funding has been set aside for new schools for North West Kilmarnock, Stewarton and Dalmellington dependent on match funding from the Scottish Government. These schools will be built to the highest environmental standards in terms of carbon reduction.
“Our commitment to tackle climate change is clear, with an allocation of £5million towards new energy efficiency and carbon reduction projects; this in addition to the £24.5 million we will spend with the UK government to make East Ayrshire a national centre for energy research and development. Our young people will play a key role in helping to tackle this agenda, building on the remarkable awareness of the challenges ahead which they demonstrated so clearly at our Climate Change Conference late last year.
“I believe that this budget demonstrates our absolute commitment to those who need our services, our firm belief in those who work for us to deliver them, and our enduring confidence in the ability, capacity and readiness of our communities to work in partnership with us.”
The full budget paper can be seen here.