Council prepares budget with 'fragile' finances

Councils’ financial situation has been described as ‘increasingly fragile’, as Argyll and Bute Council prepares to balance its budget in ‘the most difficult budget setting context seen for many years.’

The council faces a budget gap of more than £13.8 million in 2023-24 alone, and of more than £53.3 million in 2023-2028.

Scotland’s Accounts Commission, which audits councils, highlights in a recent report, that councils will need to continue to make increasingly difficult choices, in what’s described as the most difficult budget setting context seen for many years.

William Moyes, Chair of the Accounts Commission, said:

“It’s clear the financial situation of councils is increasingly fragile. Councils are having to deal with the effects of inflation, the increasingly desperate cost of living impacts and rising demand for services.”

Argyll and Bute Council will set its budget on 23rd February. In preparation for that, a report outlining initial savings options will go to a special Policy and Resources Committee next week.

Councillor Gary Mulvaney, Policy Lead for Finance Services said:

“The harsh reality is that councils just don’t have funding to do everything communities want us to, or even what we’ve been able to do in the past. We have developed options to soften the blow and save services as much as possible in Argyll and Bute. However this scale of financial challenge demands more.”

The report outlines that the council has developed around £9 million of savings options that avoid impact on services for the public. It also includes initial proposals that would include stopping some services.

Councillor Robin Currie, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council said:

“The council delivers more services than we have a duty to do. We have saved those additional services for as long as we could, to benefit the area. Multi-million pound funding cuts over many years mean unfortunately that the priority now has to be on saving the services we have a duty to deliver.”

You can find a copy of the report on the council’s website.

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