ARGYLL and Bute Council has agreed its budget for 2013/14 – meeting its savings targets while also finding ways of funding a number of key projects across Argyll and Bute.
The 2013/14 budget – the first of the new council administration since elections in May 2012 – is part of a seven-year approach which aims to balance savings over a longer term.
The leader of the council, James Robb, spoke of the ‘very tough’ decisions that balancing the budget had demanded, but acknowledged the efforts made to save money with as few compulsory job cuts as possible.
“We can take comfort in the joint approach which has in previous years managed to find solutions to higher potential job losses with minimal compulsory redundancies. That is quite remarkable given the geography of Argyll and Bute,” said Councillor Robb in his budget speech to members.
The budget proposals agreed by councillors on Thursday 14 February include protection of capital investment in roads, with £21m spent over three years as set out in the 2012/13 budget.
In other service areas, savings will allow reinvestment of £1.5m in front-line services for adult care, children and families and education.
The council will also introduce the Living Wage of £7.50 per hour from 1st April 2013, and council tax levels will remain the same for another year.
Key projects which the council plans to support – and which will benefit the Argyll and Bute area as a whole as well as local communities - were highlighted by Councillor Robb in his speech.
Allowances have been built into the budget to provide funding of £350,000 for the Inveraray CARS regeneration project; support for Helensburgh’s Hermitage Park application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, £300,000; the restoration of Campbeltown Picture House is in line for a £150,000 funding boost; and £19,000 for Kilmartin House Museum.
As Councillor Robb pointed out, however, there have been tough decisions to make – not least resolving the staff reductions resulting from the need to save almost £6m annually over the next seven years.
The council has had to make a number of savings with all service areas facing changes. Some of these relate to the council’s own operations, with reductions in travel, printing and stationery costs. There will also be some administration savings in different departments. Many services will see a rise in charges – for example, pier and harbour dues, licence fees and commercial waste uplifts, among others. This will allow the council to make the most of any opportunities for income and in turn continue to deliver essential services against a backdrop of savings needs.
Councillor Robb said: “Savings are a significant feature of this budget, but we will keep on improving the way we do things to make sure that we are as efficient as can be. Our performance has improved across many of our services, despite the savings that have been made already. We are committed to ensuring that this continues.
“This budget has required very tough decisions for all of us and I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the complex work required, not just to settle this budget but to lay the foundations of sustainable future financial planning. Thanks are due also to my councillor colleagues who have contributed to the process.”
Notes for editors
Argyll and Bute Council’s total budget for the 2013/14 financial year is £279million. This is made up of a total capital budget of £35million and total revenue budget of £244million. Council tax remains unchanged – band D costs £1,178 annually, excluding water and any other charges.
The key projects for which the council has made provision, using surpluses, are:
- Inveraray CARS Project - £350,000
The total project cost is £3,016,375; Common Fund total, £2,717,855, excluding owners’ contribution. Other funding sought - Historic Scotland, £970,000; Heritage Lottery Fund, £1,000,000; ACHA, £300,000. This will help to protect the built heritage of this important Argyll town.
- Hermitage Park - £300,000
The total project cost is £2,800,000. Other funding sought - Heritage Lottery Fund – Parks for People, £2,170,000; Sport Scotland Legacy 2014 Active Places Fund, £100,000; Military Covenant Funding, £250,000; potential Historic Scotland. This project recognises the importance of our heritage and open space in delivering a quality environment for our communities to live and work and for visitors to visit.
- Campbeltown Picture House - £150,000
Phased over three years, the total project cost is £1,970,674. This project is hopeful of £533,000 from Creative Scotland, £300,000 from HIE and has secured funding of £449,674 from Historic Scotland, along with other grants amounting to £38,000. There are proposed funding bids from Argyll and Bute Council for £150,000 and £500,000 from various other sources. The project was refused HLF funding for £1,000,000 and from Leader for £150,000. It is in accordance with our Corporate Plan, with our aim of improving the potential of our area and with our Economic Development Action Plan to move industry up the value chain, to extend the tourism season and improve the profile of Argyll and Bute.
- Kilmartin House Museum - £19,000
The total cost for the development stage is £75,000. This will be met by successful bids from Leader in December, £28,000, and HIE match funding of £28,000). This project aligns with Objective 3 of the Corporate Plan - ‘working together to improve the potential of our area’ - as a key cultural tourism hub. The project helps to collect and curate the majority of archaeological artefacts from Argyll on behalf of the council.