How will the Edinburgh budget affect me? Council tax rises for each band and cuts explained
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Edinburgh’s budget was approved by councillors on Thursday (23 February), setting out the city’s spending and income plans for the new financial year 2023/24. But the package which was passed was the one put forward by the Lib Dem group rather than either the one drawn up by the Capital’s minority Labour administration or the joint proposals tabled by the SNP – the biggest group on the council – and the Greens.
So what does this unexpected set of budget plans mean for Edinburgh residents? Here’s a run-down of the main points, including how much you will have to pay in council tax, where the spending axe will fall and how the council could bring in some extra money.
How much will council tax rise in Edinburgh?
Council tax bills in the Capital will increase by 5 per cent across all bands. That means a rise of £68.94 for Band D properties, which are considered the average.
Here’s how much households in each band will have to pay for 2023/24: Band A: £965.13; Band B: £1,125.98; Band C: £1,286.84; Band D: £1,447.69; Band E: £1,902.10; Band F: £2,352.50; Band G: £2,835.06; Band H: £3,546.84
Edinburgh cuts which have been rejected
The budget which was passed protects school budgets by rejecting cuts which had been proposed by council officials to teachers and pupil support assistants at a cost of £5.55m. It also rejects cuts proposed by officials to the speech and language therapy budget of £370,000, but agrees to a review of the service, so long as any savings go into school budgets. And the proposed £120,000 cut to the Taxicard service for disabled people who can’t use buses will not go ahead either.
Edinburgh cuts which will go ahead, including free tram travel for under-22s
Free travel on trams for under-22s will stop at the end of March. The Scottish Government pays for under-22s to get free fares on buses but refuses to extend the policy to the trams. Up until now council funding has allowed under-22s to use the trams without paying, but it has been decided this can no longer be afforded.
And there’s no money to try to introduce a new cycle hire scheme. The last one came to an end when the operator was unwilling to renew the contract because of the extra costs of higher-than-expected levels of theft and vandalism of the bikes.
And a £400,000 cut to education welfare officer roles which was proposed by officials will go ahead.
Extra funding for services including rad improvements and green spaces
There will be a £3 million increase in spending on gully cleaning, fly tipping, graffiti removal and street sweeping to help clean up the Capital.
The budget for improvements to paths, pavements and roads will be increased by £11 million – more than the Labour budget had proposed – which should help tackle the city’s pothole problem.
There will also be an extra £3 million for improvements to parks and greenspaces.
And £3 million of council money will be allocated towards the funding of the King’s Theatre refurbishment project after a failed bid for cash from the UK Gvernment’s Levelling Up Fund.
Are Edinburgh council jobs under threat?
The Lib Dem budget, which was passed, talks about saving £600,000 from the redeployment pool – often high-paid staff whose roles have disappeared but who continue to be employed by the council – by withdrawing the long-standing commitment to no compulsory redundancies.
And it also proposes generating significant savings from “best value” service reviews, specifically looking at external provision of waste and cleansing services, which they claim could result in savings of £500,000 in the first year and £2.5m per year thereafter. However, the Labour administration says it remains committed to its policies in these areas and insists there will no compulsory redundancies and no outsourcing of services.
What about the environment ?
The budget includes an extra £2 million for measures to prevent flooding, which is expected to become a growing problem in future. There will also be £279,000 to boost the council’s climate and sustainability team after officials said the current staffing level meant the city would struggle to meet the 2030 climate targets for a cleaner, greener Capital.
And the budget also proposes reducing energy costs and carbon emissions by turning down standard temperature settings in council offices from 19° to 18° C.
Raising extra money
Around £2.4 million will be raised for roads and footpaths after the Scottish Government confirmed the council can increase parking fines from £60 to £100 (£50 if paid in two weeks). The increase will take effect from April 1.
The budget proposes raising an extra £40,000 from property developers with a 25 per cent increase to Road Occupation charges – the money developers have to pay for taking up roadspace with scaffolding, cranes, hoardings, skips and so on.
The budget also suggests the council could raise additional revenue from empty commercial property by withdrawing Empty Property Relief for Non-Domestic Rates.
And it says the council could start charging commercial event operators for advice and guidance provided through the council’s Event Planning Operations Group (EPOG) process.
Council house rents
Councillors voted to raise council tenants’ rent by 3 per cent following a freeze for the last two years. This was agreed as part of a separate housing budget where the Labour administration’s proposals were accepted.