North Ayrshire Council budget announced including a Council Tax rise of 4.79 per cent
North Ayrshire Council is to create new jobs despite facing a deeply challenging financial settlement.
Since 2010/11, North Ayrshire Council has cut £92m from its Revenue Budget as funding has failed to keep pace with the rising costs and demand for Council services.
The Budget for 2019/20 – which was approved by Elected Members today (Wednesday, February 27) – required £8.5m of further reductions in order to deliver a balanced Budget.
But, despite the severe financial challenges this presents to the Council, the 2019/20 Budget will result in a net increase of about 24 new jobs.
While there will be a reduction in a number of posts, this will be more than offset by the creation of around 74 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts as a result of the expansion of early learning and childcare and a further 21 WTE posts from planned investment in health and social care. Any reduction in posts will be managed though vacancies, redeployment, voluntary early retirement and voluntary redundancy.
Council Leader Joe Cullinane said: “There’s no doubt that with every passing year, it gets more difficult to balance the Budget while protecting jobs and our frontline services.
“In the face of austerity, it’s remarkable that we will actually be creating jobs this year, with new posts opening up in social care and in early years.
“But that doesn’t take away from the fact that if local government continues to be underfunded, year after year, services will inevitably suffer.”
The £343m Revenue Budget – which pays for the day-today running of Council services – is funded largely through the settlement from the Scottish Government.
For 2019/20, this core funding has decreased by £3.8m (1.4 per cent of the overall Budget) with £9.4m ring-fenced to fund new commitments such as the expansion of early learning and child care, and health and social care.
Some £3.48m of cuts had previously been approved for 2019/20 and further reductions in service were required to plug the funding gap. Approval was also given for the use of some Council reserves, while keeping to the fiscal rule of maintaining unearmarked reserves at the approved minimum of two per cent.
Despite the financial pressures facing the Council, Elected Members made a continuing commitment to support its lowest earners, those living in poverty and North Ayrshire’s children.
Among the range of measures passed include increased investment in the services that support our most vulnerable residents with additional funding of approximately £1.39million for the Health & Social Care Partnership.
It was also agreed that Council Tax will rise by 4.79 per cent from April. This increase keeps North Ayrshire broadly in line with the average Council Tax level in Scotland.