Council’s core priorities will guide Edinburgh’s Budget challenge - Rob Munn and Joan Griffiths
As a growing city, Edinburgh faces a unique set of challenges – not least mounting financial pressure on council services.
We spend over £1bn in revenue and around £400m of capital each year. And while we have a strong track record of balancing the council’s annual budget, the income we receive is not enough to meet the rising costs of some of the most critical services we provide like social care and tackling homelessness.
We cannot fully predict the financial impact of the pandemic, but we do know that we need to save more than £60m by 2024. So, when we meet tomorrow to set the Council’s budget, we need to not lose sight of the savings we’re working towards while still providing vital services to communities, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Last year, we successfully set and delivered a balanced £1 billion-plus budget, with Council Tax frozen. This year, officers have a proposed a 3% Council Tax rise, to help address our income gap to preserve critical services and rebuild a fair and green recovery in the years ahead.
We know through the results of our Edinburgh People Survey that residents are content to pay a little more tax if it helps to maintain frontline services. And so, if a rise is agreed, we need to channel
funding to where it’s most needed and will have the most meaningful impact.
Keeping our 700 or so services going has been and must remain our priority and we are committed to delivering support to those who need it most, now and in the years to come. This will involve
progressing our primary agenda of creating attractive, safe and environmentally positive places to
live, building thousands of affordable homes and investing in modern, inclusive schools and early
years settings to give our children the best possible start in life.
We also need to focus efforts on our immediate and long-term response to the Covid crisis and our core priorities, but we aren’t starting from scratch. The Business Plan we agreed last year, supported by our ten-year Sustainable Capital Budget Strategy, clearly sets out direct capital investment priorities our future Edinburgh needs.
And, like all local authorities, our finances have been under constraint for many years. We’ve already saved more than £380 million since 2012 so we will be building on the substantial changes we’ve already set in motion to address the challenges we face.
It’s testament to the efforts we’ve made in recent years and the dedication of all our staff that proposals for a balanced budget have been brought forward. While we haven’t had the same opportunity to consult on the Council’s budget this year, we do have clear Council priorities which will frame the decisions we make.
Our residents deserve the very best City, services, and opportunities that we can provide, be they equal access to education and employment or a City which promotes their wellbeing. So, while we undoubtedly face another budget challenge, we’re determined not to lose sight of our priorities of tackling poverty, cutting carbon emissions, and working for a more equal city.
Tune in to the Budget Meeting on the Council’s website, live at 10am tomorrow.
Councillors Rob Munn and Joan Griffiths, Finance and Resources Convener and Vice Convener