Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is facing an estimated budget deficit of £6.4m for the forthcoming financial year. Proposals to deal with this deficit are a mixture of savings and additional income (£2.7m), and the use of reserves. (£3.7m).
The Scottish Government Financial Settlement, when ring fenced commitments, pay awards and inflationary pressures are accounted for, means a further reduction in the amount of money the Comhairle has to spend on services.
The Comhairle has been looking at areas of savings for the next financial year. A report on the budget and the areas for savings (1.2MB) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) is available to download.
The draft budget report to be considered by the Comhairle assumes a Council Tax increase of 3% which would mean an annual increase of £36.88 or 0.71 per week at Band D. However, the report cautions that 3% is well below the rate of inflation and an increase of 5% should be considered to reflect cost pressures. This would result in a Band D increase of £1.18 per week.
Comhairle Leader Paul Steele said:
“The Comhairle has a tough job in setting its budget for the next year. Coming on top of years of underfunding there is very little room for manouevre. Whilst we have identified areas of savings we are also proposing using a level of reserves that leaves little for mitigating the impact of future years. The Comhairle is committed to doing our very best to protect services especially for the most vulnerable in our communities but it is getting harder year in and year out and once again I would call on Government to provide a realistic and sustainable level of financial support for local government. Currently it is not sustainable.”
The Comhairle meets on the 22 February to agree its budget. No decisions will be made until that date.