Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Logo (with tagline Ag Obair Còmhla Airson nan Eilean)
Lews Castle

Comhairle Agrees a Balance Budget

A’ Chomhairle a’ Stèidheachadh Buidseat Cothromach a dh’aindeòin Gèarradh Bunaiteach ann am Maoineachadh bho Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a Bhith Cleachdadh Airgead Cùl-Stòir.

Tha lughdachadh de £1.48m ann an Aonta Maoineachaidh Riaghaltas na h-Alba 2024 do Chomhairle nan Eilean Siar nuair a thèid pàigheadh luchd-obrach agus luchd teagaisg a chur an dara taobh ‘s cothromachadh a dhèanamh air airgead a chaidh a thoirt air adhart bho Aonta 2022/23.

Cleachdaidh a’ Chomhairle £2m de dh’airgead cùl-stòir; £1.7 bho atharrachadh no lughdachadh sheirbhisean, agus riadh-iasadan gus buidseat nach adhbhraich call cosnaidh ‘s a chumas seirbheisean aig an ìre as fheàrr a ghabhas san t-suidheachadh dhuilich ionmhais a th’ann a chothromachadh.

Comhairle Agrees  A Balanced Budget Despite A Cut In Scottish Government Funding And Further Use Of Reserves.

The Scottish Government’s 2024 Financial Settlement represents a real-terms reduction of £1.48m for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, taking account of the money ring-fenced for employees’ and teachers’ pay and adjustments to funding carried over from the 2022/23 Settlement. The Comhairle will use a further £2m of reserves to balance the budget, along with £1.7m of service changes and reductions, and use of investment returns to balance a budget which does not make any compulsory redundancies and maintains services at the best levels possible in the financial climate. 

Last month Cllr Paul Steele, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, noted that this Settlement left the Comhairle with effectively no money to implement service improvement. Further analysis of the budget settlement has made clear that the savings the Comhairle must make will see some service levels likely to reduce.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has had to make yet more difficult choices, balancing service reductions against redundancies or the removal of services altogether, but has maintained its commitment to supporting key non-statutory services such as the Stornoway-Benbecula Air Service.

Cllr Paul Steele, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said:

“Put simply, Scottish Government has not provided us with enough money to deliver our services to the public and Councils lack the powers to raise our own revenue without imposing unacceptably high increases in Council Tax or other charges. We are fortunate that our good financial management has once again maintained sufficient reserves to assist us with our budget planning Over the last few months I have visited each area of the Western Isles and met with local representatives. At these meetings I heard the various priorities that individuals and community groups hold and asked what they felt the Comhairle’s priorities should be for the next year.

“The Deputy First Minister recently promised that the Scottish Budget would prioritise the delivery of high-quality public services to the people of Scotland, but that good intention has been manifested by a real-terms cut in the Comhairle’s funding, requiring us to use yet more of our diminishing reserves. Reserves, as we all know, can only be used once. High-quality public services are not going to be delivered in future unless there is a change of focus towards greater respect and support for Local Government and the services it provides to communities, full and effective island-proofing, and delivery of much-needed change as to how Councils are funded and to the structure of our public services in island communities. The position of Barra and Vatersay, still waiting for new hospital, education and leisure facilities, demonstrates beyond doubt how current structures and processes are not delivering on the ground. Our communities deserve better.

The Comhairle welcomes the ongoing engagement with Scottish Government to improve this year’s Budget and looking forward, to halt this trend and work to ensure that the Western Isles receives the investment needed to stem depopulation and improve the quality of life for people living in our communities.”

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will communicate  with the public to provide further details on the reality of this budget in the coming weeks.