A reduction in the council’s annual grant announced by the Scottish Government this week has left Argyll and Bute Council facing a £9million budget gap for the next financial year.
It is another significant cut in our funding, which is extremely disappointing. It will clearly impact on our residents and communities.
Measures already in place, including savings agreed in February 2018 and a proposed increase to Council Tax and fees and charges, reduce the gap from £9m to £5m. However, the scale of the grant reduction inevitably will continue to have a direct impact on services.
Years of funding cuts mean we must focus on what we, as a council, have a statutory duty to deliver. Sadly, we have to reduce some of the other work that we do, and that may even include valued services.
We will now begin the difficult process of working towards identifying the further savings now required as part of our budget setting process, which will take place early next year.
Our priority, as always, will be to make the best possible use of the funding we receive, and we will draw on public feedback to our recent consultation to ensure we reach the right budget decisions.
For clarification, although the Scottish Government has allocated more money overall, this money is ring-fenced to fund new Scottish Government commitments which councils will be required to deliver – for example, the expansion of early learning and childcare. These attached conditions mean that funding for our existing, core services is being cut and we now need to identify savings of £9million.