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Budget consultation for 2018-2021 launched

A public consultation on East Renfrewshire Council's budget for the next three years has been launched.

Budget Consultation 2018 to 2021 main logo

The Council's budget covers a huge range of services, including schools, roads, parks, social care, refuse collection and recycling, and housing. 

Whilst the Council does not yet know its exact budget, with the Scottish Government not due to confirm the annual grant settlement until December, it is expecting to have to make savings in the region of £26million between 2018 and 2021.  

A range of proposed saving options to meet the £26m shortfall have been published today (9 October 2017).

The shortfall is in addition to £37million of savings the council has already made since 2012.

The main challenge facing the Council is that its annual grant funding is anticipated to decrease over the next three years whilst, at the same time, demand on services continues to increase. In particular, the Council faces increased pressure due to the area's growing elderly and early years population, with both groups requiring an extensive range of services.

The Council has been successful so far in off-setting the impact of savings on the majority of frontline services through a determined focus on efficiency.

This journey of change and modernisation has already helped the Council meet tough savings targets, however whilst we will continue to work smart and drive up efficiencies at every opportunity, this will not be enough to make the savings required.

Therefore, some of the proposals in the consultation do see a potential reduction in some service levels.

The financial challenges that ERC faces today are similar to those being experienced in many households. Essentially, our income is not increasing at the same rate as our expenditure and as such we have to find new and different ways to make ends meet. Many of the proposals published for consultation today are in line with our successful and determined focus to be as efficient as possible and I know that's exactly what our residents expect. However, because we have already made savings of more than £37m in the past five years the scope left available to find more savings by efficiencies is limited. While we always strive to protect frontline services as far as possible it is regrettable that in this budget cycle the sheer scale of savings needed means that undoubtedly there will be an impact on how some services are delivered in future. Officers of the council have identified these potential saving options and we want to hear the views of all our residents and staff before putting forward a proposed budget in February which balances the council's books for the next three years.
- Councillor Tony Buchanan - Leader of the Council 

ERC estimates that it will have around 300 less posts than in the current Council business and it is hoped to achieve these reductions without the need for compulsory redundancies.

In addition, new roles and retraining opportunities will also be created as the needs of the Council change. For example, over the next few years the Council expects more than 200 new early years support roles will be created as ERC works to implement new government targets. Therefore overall it is anticipated there will be around 100 fewer posts by 2021.

Some of the proposals published for consultation include:

  • To increase council tax by three per cent in each of the next three years of this budget cycle. If council tax is not increased then the level of savings needed would be much higher than £26million
  • To reduce the education budget by 8 per cent which will include a reduction in Pupil Support Assistants
  • Reduction in roads maintenance budget by 10 per cent
  • Reduction in operating hours of community warden service
  • Requirement for East Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership to find efficiencies of up to 20 per cent against current expenditure

We absolutely understand how important this consultation is to our communities, particularly as over 60 per cent of our staff are also local residents. No decisions have been made on proposed service changes that impact our residents, and we genuinely want to know what residents and staff think of the options out for consultation.  We will also use feedback to consider any further steps we can take to mitigate the impact of the proposals and welcome any alternative options to making our savings in a different way. Some of the proposals being put forward for consultation are extremely challenging however I want to reassure residents that throughout this difficult process the needs of those in our communities who are most vulnerable will continue to be our core focus. Despite the tough financial climate we remain committed to significant investment in our local infrastructure. Between 2018 and 2021 we will invest around £77m in ambitious capital schemes to drive growth, support the delivery of new schools and early years establishments, ensure our exciting City Deal plans are delivered and create opportunities.
- Councillor Tony Buchanan

The consultation will be open from 9 October until 28 November 2017, with the final budget being decided by elected members at a meeting of the full council on 8 February 2018.  

A range of Budget Panels with key community groups and representatives, including parent councils, local care providers, equality group representatives, members of our youth forum and Business Improvement Districts, will also take place during the consultation period to gather as many views as possible. 

Budget Consultation 2018 - 2021

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