North Ayrshire Council sets 2020/21 Budget
Posted on 5 Mar 2020
North Ayrshire Council is to create scores of new jobs following approval of its 2020/21 Budget.
A net total of approximately 86 jobs will be created over the next few years despite the Council facing yet another challenging financial settlement. Jobs will be created to support Community Wealth Building, within the Health and Social Care Partnership and as part of the expansion of early years. These will be slightly offset by the removal of a small number of posts which will be managed through vacancies, redeployment, voluntary early retirement and voluntary redundancy.
This year, the Council faced a budget gap of £11.409m but despite the pressure this places on the Council, the proposals put forward sought to protect crucial services.
Once again, North Ayrshire Council is faced with financial challenges in setting the Budget, having made approximately £102 million of cuts over the past decade as funding from Central Government hasn’t kept pace with the rising demand and cost of services.
The £358m Revenue Budget – which pays for the day-to-day running of Council services – is funded largely through the settlement from the Scottish Government.
This year, the Council faced a £1.205m reduction to its core grant - about 0.43 per cent reduction from last year.
Ring-fenced funding has been provided to meet national spending requirements such as teacher pension and pay awards, early years expansion and access to school counselling among others.
Council Leader Joe Cullinane said: “We’re heading into the second decade of austerity but despite the financial challenges we’re proud to be creating additional jobs while protecting our crucial services.
“I am particularly pleased that this budget provides investment, through staffing resource and capital funding, to drive forward our exciting Community Wealth Building agenda.
“It becomes more and more difficult every year to set a balanced budget and it has reached a stage where any further cuts will be likely to impact the services we provide to a greater extent.
“The long-term financial position is unsustainable, and something must change if we are to continue to provide the everyday services which people need.
“That’s why we have taken the prudent decision to invest the one-off savings we made refinancing loans, which generated savings of £9.8million, in areas that will generate new income streams for the Council in future years whilst driving forward our priorities of Community Wealth Building and tackling the climate emergency.”
The Budget saw approval for the creation of a £8.8 million Investment Fund to be invested in environmental and infrastructure projects as well as supporting Community Wealth Building. A further benefit is the potential to generate income helping bridge our future anticipated funding gap.
In addition, it was agreed to establish an £86,000 Drugs Emergency Fund.
At the meeting, it was also agreed that Council Tax will rise by 4.84 per cent from April. The rise keeps North Ayrshire broadly in line with the average Council Tax level in Scotland. Council Tax is expected to bring in approximately £58.8m and makes up about 17 per cent of the Council’s income, with the bulk of funding coming directly from the Scottish Government.
As part of this year’s Budget preparations, Council officers consulted with communities in every part of North Ayrshire and the results of these sessions helped inform the Budget process.
It is anticipated that the Council will continue to meet and listen to communities in the months ahead with a view to ensuring they play an active part in helping to shape the delivery of services ahead of next year’s Budget.
Currently, it is anticipated that the Council will continue to face financial challenges in the coming years with indicative funding gaps of £9.248m and £9.817m for 2021/22 and 2022/23 respectively.