Aberdeen’s renewal at heart of 2021/22 budget

Aberdeen City Council today [10 March 2021] put the city and its citizens at the heart of its spending plans for 2021/22. 

Elected members agreed an unprecedented investment of £150million to regenerate the city centre and link it to the beach area to help ensure Aberdeen is a vibrant, creative and ambitious city. 

The Council agreed that there would be no rise in Council Tax and no rise in fees or charges.  

The Council also reiterated its commitment to its Net Zero Vision and the Council’s Climate Change Plan. The hydrogen investment package in today’s budget is worth £38.4million.  

This includes £19.4million for a new hydrogen hub in the city that will offer the real potential to unlock private sector investment and lay the building blocks for large scale production, storage and the distribution of green hydrogen for export. It will allow the Council to heat homes as well as power transport within the city.  

While £19million will be used over the next 5 years to further add to the council’s range of electric, hybrid and hydrogen vehicles. 

The Council agreed to spend £187million on its education service in the coming financial year with part of this funding ensuring that every eligible child receives 1,140 hours of early learning provision.

The Council’s operations that look after roads, parks, and keeping the city clean and safe will have funding totalling almost £55million while its early intervention and community power spend will total over £16million.

The Council is determined to ensure that no one in this city goes without food or shelter and in addition to the funding it allocates for its award-winning Food and Fun programme and annual allocations made by the Fairer Aberdeen Board, it agreed to allocate a further £100,000 to help deliver more sustainable solutions to food insecurity and poverty. This is in addition to the £75,000 agreed at Council last week to develop proposals for a food cooperative.

Within communities and partnerships, the Council will invest nearly £6million and spend on libraries will total almost £4million.

The Council will also spend almost £100million on adult social care services.

£1.5m set aside for the ongoing exceptional operating environment created by the Covid-19 pandemic and the known and unknown risks that may arise.  

The Council agreed a general revenue budget of £480m and a capital programme plan of £214m for 2021/22. 

Council Co-Leader Councillor Douglas Lumsden said: “Today’s budget comes at a key time in the city’s history – a key time in the world’s history – as cities around the globe take the first tentative steps out of the devastating global pandemic that has engulfed us over the last 12 months. 

“As well as dealing with the pressures of Covid, our Council has kept a firm focus on securing long-term prosperity, which is why we are able to commit to an unprecedented investment of £150million in the city centre linking it the beach area.  

“We have ensured over recent years that we have maintained a strong financial position, as recognised by our external auditors and our credit rating assessment, and delivered a balanced budget for the last 3 years which when we look at the next 5 years it can be clearly seen that we have headroom to provide the city and its businesses with an assurance that the Council will invest in the areas that will make a real impact to them as they seek to come out of this lockdown. 

“This coupled with the major investment already seen including Aberdeen Art Gallery, Union Terrace Gardens and Provost Skene’s House will continue to see the hugely significant development of Aberdeen as a tourist destination and desirable location to live and work.  

“Covid has shown us that our most valuable currency is our humanity, and we go forward with a sense of ambition and excitement but also with a better appreciation of what our priorities must be. These priorities have been captured in this budget which is why it is such an exciting time as we look forward as the city continues to build on its reputation as a city that is vibrant, creative and ambitious.” 

Council Co-Leader Councillor Jennifer Laing said: “This budget is about the people and place and it was imperative that this budget accelerates our recovery from Covid particularly for people and communities as well as at a city-wide level. A city, after all, is nothing without its people. 

“Our socio-economic rescue plan was an immediate response to the pandemic, but actions taken to support businesses, people and the place will become embedded into Community Planning Aberdeen and the Local Outcome Improvement Plan refresh.  

“In Aberdeen we are enormously proud of the partnership working we have forged with community organisations. This budget will continue to support the brilliant work they do to help individuals and families in our priority locality areas and city-wide particularly in tackling food poverty. 

“Today’s budget shows the Council remains committed to supporting the growth of the city’s economy and we believe that this budget will help to aid the city’s socio-economic recovery from Covid-19 through investment in new primary schools, much need investment in our roads network, tackles climate change through the Energy from Waste plant, invests in our “green” vehicles and alternative energy through hydrogen. This will attract further inward investment from the private sector helping to create thousands of new jobs.”