Council shift to delivering “minimum service”

Tuesday January 29th 2019

Fairfield House Midlothian

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

An £11.5million shortfall in Midlothian Council’s budget will see its pledge to deliver excellence changed to delivering “minimum service”, according to its leader.

Councillor Derek Milligan said the estimated gap in funding for the coming year was “absolutely horrendous”.

He warned fellow councillors that the local authority would have to make more cuts and consider providing statutory services only as it tried to make savings.

Referring to the council’s Delivering Excellence programme, which aspires to provide high quality services more cost effectively in the county, he said: “Talking about delivering excellence – it should be renamed delivering minimum service.

“We will have to vastly reduce the services on offer. It is absolutely horrendous.”

The council’s finance chief Gary Fairley told a meeting of its audit committee that an earlier estimate of a gap of £9.59m in the council’s budget had now increased to £11.52m after the Scottish Government announced its settlement figures for local authorities.

It is understood that once an increase in council tax is confirmed and savings already agreed are implemented the shortfall required to balance the council’s books is likely to be closer to £7.9million.

Mr Fairley told the committee: “The grant settlement (from the Scottish Government) represents a very challenging settlement for all of local government with a cut to funding for core services of £237million or 2.4 per cent.

“The budget shortfall for 2019/20 was £9.59 million and this has been exacerbated by the settlement.

“Inevitably with reducing resources and continued inflationary and demand-led pressures to secure a balanced budget will require cuts across a range of services for the year ahead.”

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