East Renfrewshire residents are set to be hit with a council tax increase starting next month.
Councillors approved an increase of three per cent in each of the next three years, in order to minimise the impact of savings on frontline services.
The decision was agreed at last week’s annual budget meeting, which will see some residents more than £262 worse-off by 2021. The average rent is also set to increase by £300 a year from 2019.
Defending the decision, Council leader Tony Buchanan said: “We continue to face increased pressures linked to our rising elderly population and growing younger population, which places a high demand on both our schools and social care services.
“New legislation such as recycling targets, landfill tax and welfare reform also need to be considered when planning how best to deliver services in the future. So whilst raising Council Tax was a tough choice it was one that had to be made in order to protect the services most valued by residents.
“We have also listened to our residents and amended savings proposals to reflect their feedback as we try minimise the impact of the changes which require to be made in the way in which we deliver services.”
The council’s three-year budget plan will strive to protect frontline services, jobs and the area’s most vulnerable residents.
It will deliver a balanced budget in 2018/19 and also announced more than £1m of investment in the coming year which will support lasting improvements across a range of services.
This will include a £250,000 investment in laptops and tablets in schools. In addition a Reading Recovery scheme put in place last year to support pupils having difficulty will also be extended for a further year and an additional £150,000 has been committed to making improvements to mixed tenure properties.
An extensive budget consultation exercise was carried out last year, giving residents the opportunity to have their say on the savings options available – totalling £28m.
The measures which have been agreed to minimise the impact on services include:
• Removed £7.7m of the most difficult savings options
• Agreeing efficiencies totalling £9.6m over the next three years as part of overall savings of £20.3m
• The deferral of a number of savings proposals until future years to allow services more time to plan for the changes
• A commitment that no compulsory redundancies will be required in the coming financial year
Mr Buchanan added: “With the reduction of our savings target we have been able to remove some of the most difficult savings options from the table.
“This includes minimising the reduction in budgets devolved to head teachers and maintaining the roads budget at £4m for the coming years – two of the main issues highlighted during the public consultation.
“In addition, due to the Council’s sound long-term financial planning we currently have a healthy level of reserves, so by utilising these it has allowed us to further offset the impact of saving”
Of the Council savings needed over the next three years it is expected that almost 70 per cent – £9.6m – will be achieved through being more efficient.”