East Renfrewshire Council’s financial affairs were managed within its operational budget last year, a report has revealed.
It found “early action in applying savings measures during 2018/19” helped the council to address the financial difficulties it faces in future years.
Remaining within budget means the the council did not require £1,355,000 from reserves had been planned and transfers totalling £2,734,000 could be put into reserves.
A budget monitoring report submitted to the council’s cabinet in April this year forecast an underspend of £1,654,000 for the year.
However, efforts to reduce expenditure continued and “at the year-end the underspend position improved to £4,089,000”.
“Reduced expenditure on payroll, procurement and utilities contributed to the underspend, together with increased recoveries of income, lower utilisation of contingency funds and savings on capital financing charges,” the report states.
Council leader Tony Buchanan welcomed the report, saying it was testament to the hard work of council staff to ensure respective targets were met.
“The challenges are becoming more and more significant on a yearly basis,” he said, adding the council need to be prepared for “unknown aspects” in the future, when difficult choices will be made.
The cabinet also agreed the council’s annual efficiency statement for 2018/19, which saw more than £3 million saved. It will be submitted to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.
“The council continues to actively review opportunities for applying efficiency savings over the whole range of its services,” a report states, revealing “cash-releasing savings” of £3,374,983.
The report continues “the council had an annual budget target of £4.4m of savings for 2018/19 and £9.3m of savings for 2019/20 with an expectation that at least £3m of these savings each year will be delivered through efficiencies, change and improvement.
“These savings are primarily a result of efforts to do more with less. Instead of being considered as new funding sources, these efficiencies represent the Council’s effectiveness at living within its means, meeting the challenges of decreasing resources across the board.”
Councillor Colm Merrick said the efficiencies were protecting the council against any other budget savings it might have to make.
“We aren’t taking money from services or cutting their funding, just doing them more efficiently,” he added.