Focus on targeting resources is underlined as 2019/20 revenue budget is set

A targeted approach to delivering on behalf residents and businesses of Aberdeen underpins the Aberdeen City Council budget for 2019/20.

Elected members approved the spending priorities during a meeting of the full Council in the Town House chamber today (March 5).

Councillors agreed wide ranging recommendations in relation to the following budgets:

  • General Fund Revenue and Capital Investment Programme;
  • Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and Capital Investment Programme;
  • Common Good Fund.

The General Fund Revenue budget underpins service delivery in the city and relates to the organisation’s day to day business.

A range of revenue generating and cost saving measures were tabled to bridge a funding gap of £41.2million, arising due to reduced grant funding coupled with increasing costs and rising demand.

Budget options have been aligned closely to the Local Outcome Improvement Plan (LOIP) which has been developed by Community Planning Aberdeen partners including the Council, Police Scotland, NHS Grampian, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Aberdeen Council of Voluntary Organisations.

Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader Jenny Laing, who is chair of Community Planning Aberdeen, said: “The LOIP vision for Aberdeen is for a place where everyone can prosper and as a key community planning partner we share that ambition.

“The financial constraints the Council is operating under are severe and there have been many unpalatable measures that have had to be adopted to set a balanced budget for 2019/20.

“By focusing on the LOIP and the best outcomes for individuals and communities we have, wherever possible, ensured resources are directed to the areas that will deliver those shared goals. The priority has been on protecting the most vulnerable.

“The challenge has been enormous this year and already we must turn attention to 2020/21 and begin the engagement with stakeholders and communities to encourage new ways of working that will take into account the increasingly hostile financial climate Aberdeen City Council faces.”

Councillors were presented with around £45m of saving options available to meet the £41.2m funding gap and were able to reject a limited number of the measures presented in the revenue budget proposals. Elected members committed to:

  • Retaining library provision at current levels and protecting the city’s network of community libraries;
  • Keeping public toilets open, opting against proposals to achieve cost savings by closing facilities;
  • Protecting external funding to a number of key third sector and community organisations who were the subject of a funding review.

The Council’s transformation programme, which puts digital technology at the core of plans to enhance customer service whilst improving efficiency, will continue to underpin financial planning and account for multi-million pound savings in 2019/20.

Co-Leader Councillor Douglas Lumsden said: “We are pleased that we have been able to find solutions to the key challenges we have faced in setting the 2019/20 budget. It was vital that we protected libraries, public toilets and funding to valued community organisations.

“In making those choices it is inevitable that was have had to take saving options in other parts of our operation. Those are not proposals that have only been adopted because of the funding constraints which have defined this year’s budget and indeed those of recent years. With grant funding diminishing at the same time as costs and demand continue to grow, it is inevitable levels of service have to be reappraised.”

Reductions were agreed in areas including:

  • Roads maintenance;
  • Grounds maintenance;
  • Youth work.

In addition to savings, a number of measures to increase revenue were proposed in the budget report and have been accepted by elected members. These include:

  • An increase of 4.5% in Council Tax;
  • Increases to a range of fees and charges including in areas such as car parking, waste and recycling (including the introduction of a £30 annual charge for garden waste collection) and catering.

Further information on the 2019/20 budget, including the full report considered by Council, can be found at https://bit.ly/2EnaZ1O . Decisions from today’s meeting will also be posted in this section of the website.