The process of creating a balanced budget for the council is well underway and in late December, we received notification of our settlement from the Scottish Government.
Having looked beyond the smoke and mirrors and SNP spin, taking account of presentational changes, and additional commitments that we must deliver, the indisputable facts are emerging. In simple terms, we have a £3.5 million cut in our SG grant, equivalent to 1.5%.
This picture is replicated across Scotland where local government has borne the largest cuts of the Scottish government budget. Because of many years of prudent planning, Argyll and Bute is in a better financial position than most, but for the year starting in April 2024, there are still going to be some tough decisions to be taken.
On a £250 million budget, over the next three years over £26m of savings will need to be found to create a balanced budget, whether through service reductions or double-digit council tax increases, or a combination of all. That is on top of nearly £70million of savings that we have generated in the past 10 years.
The First Minister pulled a last-minute rabbit out of the hat by promising a council tax freeze – he needs to fully and transparently fund it or it will not happen.
Cllr Gary Mulvaney