What Edinburgh council's budget will mean for you - including council tax and where the money will be spent

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Edinburgh city council's budget for 2024/25 was approved on Thursday, setting out its spending and income plans for the next financial year.

Despite being the Capital, Edinburgh gets the least Scottish Government funding per head of population of any of Scotland's 32 councils.

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So what does the budget package mean for you? Here's a summary of some of the key points, including details of the council tax and where the council plans to invest extra money in the coming year

Edinburgh's minority Labour administration needed the support of at least two other parties to pass the budget and secured the votes of the Lib Dems and Tories by agreeing extra spending on their priorities.Edinburgh's minority Labour administration needed the support of at least two other parties to pass the budget and secured the votes of the Lib Dems and Tories by agreeing extra spending on their priorities.
Edinburgh's minority Labour administration needed the support of at least two other parties to pass the budget and secured the votes of the Lib Dems and Tories by agreeing extra spending on their priorities. | TSPL

How much will the council tax be?

Last year there was a 5 per cent rise in council tax bills. But this time the council agreed to freeze the council tax for next year, in line with the Scottish Government policy, because raising it would have meant losing government funding.

Here’s how much households in each band will have to pay for 2024/25:  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

The council hired a Pothole Pro on trial, but is now looking at buying two of the machines, known as "pothole killers".The council hired a Pothole Pro on trial, but is now looking at buying two of the machines, known as "pothole killers".
The council hired a Pothole Pro on trial, but is now looking at buying two of the machines, known as "pothole killers". | JCB

Extra money to improve Edinburgh's roads

The budget includes a record £12.5 million for roads, pavements, streetscapes and lighting. Over the past year, the council has resurfaced more than 400,000 sq metres of roads and footpaths. Much of that has involved resurfacing whole streets, but alongside that there is expected to be a new focus in the coming year on responding to complaints about individual potholes.

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The council hired a Pothole Pro machine, dubbed the "pothole killer", to help tackle the poor condition of many roads in the city and the trial is seen as a success. So now the council is looking at ending the hire and buying two of the machines to continue the good work.

An extra £2 million will be put into school budgets instead of the £8m cuts proposed by officials.An extra £2 million will be put into school budgets instead of the £8m cuts proposed by officials.
An extra £2 million will be put into school budgets instead of the £8m cuts proposed by officials. | TSPL

More cash for every primary and secondary school

Education officials put forward proposals to slash more than £8 million from devolved school management budgets - pots of cash given to headteachers to spend on anything from extra staff to classroom supplies - but the idea provoked an outcry, with teachers' union the EIS warning the cut would be "absolutely devastating" and council leaders rule out the move.

The minority Labour administration found money to prevent the cut, but warned that to avoid a similar proposed reduction in 2025/26 would mean a council tax rise of 1.5 per cent.

In the meantime, the approved budget for 2024/25 includes a £2m increase in devolved school management budgets after Labour accepted a Lib Dem amendment The Lib Dems said it meant every primary and secondary school in the city would benefit.

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Leisure centre closures averted

There was speculation earlier in the year that leisure centres and swimming pools were at risk of closure because of a forecast budget deficit for Edinburgh Leisure, the council's arms-length organisation in charge of sports provision.

But the council managed to find £3.2 million to keep open all the centres and pools and also allow Edinburgh Leisure staff to be paid the Real Living Wage.

However, the council warned that continuing funding for Edinburgh Leisure at this level would require a council tax increase of 1 per cent in 202/26.

Parking charges will increase as part of the budget. Picture: Ian Georgeson.
Parking charges will increase as part of the budget. Picture: Ian Georgeson.
Parking charges will increase as part of the budget. Picture: Ian Georgeson. | TSPL

Parking charges are going up

Pay-and-display parking charges will be increased by 22 per cent and the cost of residents' parking permits will rise by around 5 per cent. The exact amounts are still being calculated, but the new charges are expected to come into force on April 8.

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Finance convener Mandy Watt said:  “As Scotland’s capital, parking controls are essential for keeping our city moving, making sure roads are free of obstructions and safe for everybody that uses them, as well as encouraging the turnover of spaces to support our local economy and businesses.

 “All of the income accrued from parking is invested back into Edinburgh’s roads and transport infrastructure, including active travel improvements. This, alongside our excellent public transport systems, helps give residents, commuters and tourists more choice when deciding whether or not to drive their car in Edinburgh or to use sustainable ways of getting around such as walking, wheeling or cycling and public transport.”

There's more money for subsidised buses

The council provides a subsidy for certain bus routes which are not commercially profitable but are judged essential for local communities, mostly in remote, rural or disadvantaged areas.

There were fears the money previously set aside for these supported bus services would not be enough to ensure their continuation, so the minority Labour administration accepted an amendment from the Lib Dems to add £300,000 to the budget, which is expected to help retain the services for Ratho, Kirkliston and South Queensferry.

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Labour also accepted a Tory amendment for a further £240,000 to restore the Nos  69 and 20 bus services for Willowbrae/Lady Nairne and Dumbiedykes.

'Scrub Our Streets' programme to clean up city

A sum of £892,000 has been earmarked to help clean up Edinburgh's streets through a new programme, proposed by the Conservatives, called “Scrub our Streets”. It would allow residents to request the cleaning of their street.

The Tories said: "Such a programme will encourage residents to engage with the council in requesting the spending of resources, while at the same time providing the council with a greater awareness of the underlying cleansing problem in the city."

Large numbers of people enjoying the Meadows or other green spaces in the summer means increased demand for public toilets. Picture: Ian RutherfordLarge numbers of people enjoying the Meadows or other green spaces in the summer means increased demand for public toilets. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Large numbers of people enjoying the Meadows or other green spaces in the summer means increased demand for public toilets. Picture: Ian Rutherford | TSPL

New permanent public toilets in key parks

New permanent, inclusive and accessible public toilets are to be built in three key city parks - Leith Links, the Meadows and Inverleith Park. The council says the intention is that they should be in place by summer 2024.

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And there’s also a proposal being worked on to provide new permanent accessible toilets in Portobello. There are already two permanent public toilets in Portobello - at Pipe Lane and Bath Street - but last year locals reported people relieving themselves in alleyways and gardens in the area.

£50,000 to crack down on amplified busking

The budget also included £50,000 for enforcement and signage to tackle the problem of "nuisance" buskers and amplified sound.

In October councillors agreed to push for powers to move buskers along and crack down on amplified music. They said busking was an essential part of the Capital's cultural fabric, but that many living and working near "hotspots" often became frustrated with people "playing Wonderwall on repeat".

Lib Dem finance spokesman Neil Ross, who proposed the extra cash, said he hoped the latest move would mean that "buskers can reach the people who want to listen and not people who don't".

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How can the council afford extra spending?

The council has found £16m as a result of being able to reduce pension contributions. It has made clear the move has no impact on the beneficiaries of the pension fund. Council leader Cammy Day said: "If we didn't have that hugely successful Lothian Pension Fund then we would be having another £16m of cuts."

The council also plans to save money through "vacancy management" - not filling posts as quickly as it would like, And there will be a reduction in the use of outside contractors and agency staff.

Council house rents will rise by 7 per cent

Council tenants in the Capital face a rent rise of 7 per cent despite Edinburgh already having the highest council house rents in Scotland.

Edinburgh Tenants Federation asked for a freeze but, the council having declared a housing emergency last year, the minority Labour administration argued a significant rent rise was necessary in order to bring the housebuilding programme up to speed.

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It follows a 3 per cent rise last year and a freeze in the two years before that. The Tories proposed a 5 per cent rise and the SNP an 8.4 per cent increase, but Lib Dem and Green councillors voted with Labour to pass the 7 per cent rise.

Around 75 per cent of Edinburgh council tenants get their rent paid through the benefit system and last year a tenant hardship fund as introduced for those having to pay their own rent and struggling to do so. The fund is being boosted for 2024/25 to match an anticipated increase in demand.

Serious health and social care cuts yet to come

Health and social care is the reponsibility of Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (EIJB) which is funded jointly by the city council and NHS Lothian. The chief officer Pat Togher has warned of a £67 million budget shortfall, which will have a "huge impact" on services.

The council has put £11m towards reducing the shortfall, but there are expected to be massive cuts when the board meets to set its budget next month.

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