Argyll and Bute Council’s savings targets have been reduced to between £21.7 and £26 million, following updated budget estimates.
This means a savings target of around £9 million in both 2016/17 and 2017/18.
The updated funding gap was noted at a special meeting of the Policy and Resources (P&R) Committee when it met today (22 June).
The Committee also noted a schedule for making service choices updated in line with the change in budgetary outlook.
The schedule sees workshops for elected members in August and September, and a P&R Committee meeting in August as well as in October. Decisions on options to go to consultation will be made at a meeting of Council in October, with consultation then running until December, a report on consultation findings going to a Special P&R Committee in January, and the budget-setting meeting as scheduled in February 2016.
Councillor Dick Walsh, Leader of the Council, explained:
“Achieving the significant level of savings that we must will impact on our employees and on the work we are able to do for our communities. We are focused clearly therefore on delivering enough savings, but no more than enough.
‘’A lot of work has been done to identify options to explore in making savings. We have identified more potential options than the Council will need to take.
‘’We have created time and opportunity therefore to consider how best to make savings in relation to this revised budgetary outlook. The Service Choices process allows flexibility for that.
‘’Another report will go to the Policy and Resources Committee in August, and will take into account elected members’ feedback to the workshop that took place earlier this month and to another planned for August.
‘’The focus is on ensuring that we reach the best decisions possible for our communities, our employees and the work of the Council in supporting future prosperity for Argyll and Bute.”
The Committee also agreed an amendment in policy on council tax on empty homes which would see this income supporting overall Council spending plans rather than being allocated to area committees. This is subject to Council approval.
At the same meeting the Committee agreed proposals to invest over £300,000 additional resources to building future prosperity for Argyll and Bute, by developing the Council’s economic development function.
Subject to Council approval on Thursday, seven new posts will be created in the Economic Development and Strategic Transport (EDST) Service. Their focus will be on regeneration, business growth, improving connections (transport and digital), and promotion and marketing.
Policy Lead for Economic Development, Councillor Aileen Morton said:
“Attracting more people and more jobs is key to building the prosperity Argyll and Bute needs and deserves for our children and future generations to enjoy and thrive living here.
‘’Argyll and Bute is a fantastic place to live, work and visit. We are in competition however with other destinations in attracting new residents and businesses.
‘’This targeted investment in intended to help to build on the work already being done to drive forward economic development and prosperity.”