ARGYLL and Bute Council has taken the next steps in its drive to meet the funding challenges faced by all Scottish local authorities, with a strategic approach to providing services now while also investing in the future.
Members of the council’s Policy and Resources Committee met on Thursday 2nd April and noted a report on exploratory savings targets through the service choices process. This is designed to allow the council to address its funding gap alongside delivering Argyll and Bute’s Single Outcome Agreement – which has the core objective of attracting more people and more jobs to the area.
The council is planning for making savings of up to £37.5m over the five-year period from 2016, with a focus on saving up to £25m over 2016/17 and 2017/18. Continual budgetary monitoring and careful assessment of the impact of savings options will be carried out to ensure that the council balances its budget and makes the right level of savings, puts the resources it has to the very best use, and continues to deliver the best possible outcomes for communities, both now and in the future.
The next steps for the council are to set the level of savings for services. This is planned to be considered by the Policy and Resources Committee in June this year. To safeguard the decision-making process, budgetary monitoring will be ongoing and the impact will be carefully assessed in line with the council’s priorities and delivery of the Single Outcome Agreement.
A project board of twelve councillors from across the political spectrum and trade union representatives will work together to produce detailed proposals for savings. These proposals will first go to the Policy and Resources Committee in October and, if approved, will then be considered by the full council later the same month. The council will then seek the views of people and communities on these proposals through a consultation exercise.
Argyll and Bute Council Leader and chair of the Policy and Resources Committee, Councillor Dick Walsh, said: “The current financial climate means that no council is able to do as much as it would like. However, what we can do is rise to the challenge and meet it head-on. Today is another step in delivering a strategy that meets key needs now and in the future.
“We have listened to feedback from people who took part in the Planning Our Future consultation. We are exploring initial savings targets, always considering the council’s priorities, the objectives of our Single Outcome Agreement and, of course, the best interests of everyone in Argyll and Bute.
“This process highlights the huge range of services that Argyll and Bute Council delivers to people and communities. Because of that, the process we use must allow time and opportunities to fully explore all possible options, to evaluate them carefully and to make sure the right choices can be made. This is so that we can invest in Argyll and Bute’s future while still delivering services now.
“With challenges like this, change is inevitable, but what is certain is that Argyll and Bute Council will continue to be a major provider of services and a major employer in our communities. We have many strengths to build on – a loyal and committed workforce, a proven track record of working together with others who care about and support our area and, most importantly, a determination that Argyll and Bute can secure the prosperous future it deserves.”