Aberdeen,
03
March
2020
|
20:05
Europe/Amsterdam

2020/21 budget enshrines commitment to tackling climate change

Aberdeen City Council today put people and the place – including tackling climate change – at the heart of its spending plans for 2020/21.

Elected members agreed to invest £100 million in measures to safeguard and enhance the environment, with commitments to improving air quality in the city and introducing more greenery.

As part of the budget, the Council also agreed to increase its investment in education and to provide extra support for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents as well as those caring for them.

The Council will also continue to promote sustainable economic growth whilst locking in the benefits to ensure that Aberdeen – as guided by the Local Outcome Improvement Plan – remains a city where everyone can prosper.

The 2020/21 budget included:

  • £5 million for alternative fuel powered council fleet vehicles to help deliver an ambitious Low Emission Zone within the city centre;
  • £15m for an environmentally-friendly heat network in Torry;
  • £1m for cycling and walking infrastructure;
  • £3m to tackle fuel poverty by investing in council housing stock;
  • £2.4m for the digital network to further improve services and reduce travel needs.

Council Co-Leader Douglas Lumsden said: “This Council is overseeing the most significant period of transformation in the city’s history – socially, economically and environmentally – and today’s budget builds on that.

“It responds to the challenges around climate change in a direct way by investing in measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are committing £100 million to continue moving us to a net zero carbon local authority. The Council will, for example, look to begin a programme of providing Electric Vehicle charging points as we embark upon this ambitious programme for the energy capital of Europe."

Councillor Lumsden added: "We are continuing to transform as a Council as well as a city.

“Our spending plans support the most ambitious and comprehensive redesign of the Council’s structure and approach to service delivery ever to better meet the needs of customers whilst delivering essential financial efficiencies.

“We are revolutionising how public sector services can be accessed, allowing people to interact with us in new and more direct ways.”

The Council agreed a general revenue budget of £460m and a capital programme plan of £186m for 2020/21.

A report by officers had outlined options to bridge a funding gap of £37.9million in the general revenue budget used to cover running costs, a consequence of reduced grant funding coupled with increasing costs and rising demand.

To help balance the books, Council Tax will rise by 4% – with £1.2m of the money marked for green initiatives.

Despite the financial pressures, the Council agreed to commit an extra to £3.1m education and will exempt care experienced young people from paying council tax .

Co-Leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: "We are looking at campus-based education models which incorporate a wider community offering.

"We believe we need to build on the relationships between our Arms Length Organisations and our Health and Social Care service, to explore the opportunities of further integrating these services with the clear aim of improving the outcomes of service users.

“We have included an additional £3.5 million for investment in free personal care and ensuring we continue to meet our commitment to the minimum living wage.”

Councillor Laing added: "Our vision is to create sustainable integrated communities and places, delivering affordable homes designed for life, whilst supporting the wellbeing and resilience of our tenants.

"Improved community resilience will have long term effects on the health of our population. Through early intervention and prevention, we can prepare future generations for school, for work, for adulthood and for life itself.

“This is a budget which invests in our people, in our economy, and in our place.”

In a report, officers had presented £38.2m of options to close the funding gap but councillors rejected a number of proposals. These included closing libraries, community learning centres, and public toilets, increasing school meal charges, scrapping music tuition in schools, and reducing the number of school crossing patrollers and city wardens.