Morningside Councillor and Finance Spokesperson Neil Ross has called for proper investment in local services at today's full Edinburgh Council meeting, including pavement repairs, support for carers, community groups and decarbonisation.
The below motion was submitted by the Lib Dem Councillors to the 'Revenue Budget Framework 2021/26 Update' as it's emerged Edinburgh Council has an additional £21m funding to spend.
Liberal Democrat Amendment to Agenda Item 7.2
Revenue Budget Framework 2021/26 Update
Regrets the re-election of an SNP minority Scottish Government and the likely continuation of restricted funding of local authorities leading to severe cuts in service provision and council jobs in future.
Notes the assumption of a 3% annual rise in Council Tax, rather than the previously assumed rise of 4.79%, with a resulting loss of income of £5.4m for 2022/23 and the compounding effect of this in subsequent years.
Notes that, as a result of Liberal Democrat negotiations on the Scottish Government’s Budget, the £60m of Education catch-up resource will result in an allocation of £4.239m for Edinburgh. A further £1.2m is anticipated to come from the £20m of additional Pupil Equity Fund funding.
Notes continued failures to meet residents’ expectations for performance levels in path, pavement and road repairs, gully cleaning, gritting, snow clearing, street sweeping and waste collection services, despite the efforts of Council staff who are continually expected to do more with less.
Notes the need for additional funding of temporary accommodation for homeless people following the lack of support from the Scottish Government to fund expenditure and therefore instructs the Council Leader to lead discussions with the Scottish Government to ensure that a consistent Scotland-wide approach is adopted in funding for homelessness services.
Notes with concern the recurring EIJB revenue deficit and the impact this will have in terms of cuts to service levels and increased delays in care packages and therefore instructs the Council Leader to write to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy to ask the Scottish Government to provide additional funding for the EIJB.
Notes the absence of a comprehensive savings programme, needed to address the significant revenue funding gaps identified for years 2023/24 and 2024/25.
Notes that not all libraries, community centres, public toilets and publicly accessible council offices have been re-opened.
Notes that £21m is available to address budget pressures, anticipated savings delivery shortfalls and member priorities in 2021/22 and 2022/23.
Seeks to use this sum to help in the building of a fair and green recovery along with meaningful community engagement, consultation and participation.
Specific Revenue proposals for 2021/22 & 2022/23
Council agrees the following additional expenditure:
- £7.5m for paths, pavements and roads infrastructure, including dropped kerbs;
- £800k to improve footway and cycleway gritting and cleansing;
- £440k to fund deferral of school starts;
- £1.2m to reverse the cut to the Devolved School Management budget made in February;
- £400k to improve school playgrounds;
- £500k for a Carers' Recovery Fund;
- £250k to subsidise school lets for youth & community sports and leisure groups;
- £200k to re-open community centres more quickly;
- £150k to bring forward implementation of pedestrian crossings and other road safety measures;
- £590k to reduce CO2 emissions from Council buildings & improve recycling in primary schools;
- £200k to maintain the Council’s Sustainability team;
- £250k to help electrify the Council’s commercial vehicle fleet;
- £920k to continue the Council’s Bike Hire Scheme;
- £700k to modernise the Council’s Library software;
- £450k for temporary public toilets in parks;
- £400k for the Whistleblowing Inquiry;
- £3m to support homeless people with temporary accommodation and to prevent people at risk of homelessness from losing their homes;
- £3.2m to ensure that Looked After Children are provided with suitable residential school placements and secure placements;
- £2.5m to help the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board to meet its revenue funding deficit for the current year; and
- £1.65m to meet anticipated delivery shortfalls in current year approved savings for Planning, Building Standards and Regulatory Services, Place Fees and Charges and Home to School Transport.
The need for a Savings Programme for 2023/24 and 2024/25
Recognises that the absence of a comprehensive programme of recurring savings, needed to address the significant revenue funding gaps identified for years 2023/24 and 2024/25, may lead to significant cuts to frontline Council services and the jobs of staff employed to deliver them.
Recognises that identifying and implementing a plan of recurring savings may take 12 to 18 months before any savings may be realised and that work on this must start immediately.
Agrees therefore to remove the self-imposed policy restrictions of the Administration which require the in-house provision of existing services and an expensive commitment to avoiding compulsory redundancies.
Agrees instead to empower senior officers to develop a savings plan for consideration in the Autumn of 2021 centred on a programme of efficiencies and evidence-based Best Value service reviews with a view to delivering significant recurring revenue savings.