Midlothian Council signs off its budget

Tuesday March 8th 2016

Midlothian Council Fairfield House Main

Midlothian Council has signed off its budget for 2016/17.

At the full council meeting today (Tuesday) councillors confirmed plans for more than £192 million of spending, including an investment of more than £37 million in adult health and social care integration.

A council spokesman said: “With Scottish Government funding to local authorities cut by 3.5% and numerous other ongoing financial pressures, the council was facing a £7.3 million budget gap going into next year.

“This was obviously an extremely challenging situation, but the measures approved today address the shortfall – at least in the short term – and include using £2.6 million of reserves to maintain services.

“While increasing some charges, such as to use our gyms, may not be popular with some residents, we hope local people understand why the rise is necessary, as part of the overall budget.

“While we’ve addressed next year’s budget challenge, we’re still far from out of the woods. An equally challenging financial position is predicted to continue in 2017/18 and beyond. ”

In response to this challenge, the council has launched a public consultation on the future of local services and is inviting residents to have their say. Details of the Shaping our Future campaign are available at www.midlothian.gov.uk/shapingourfuture and in local libraries. You can also email comments and suggestions to haveyoursay@midlothian.gov.uk.

The budget includes a Council Tax freeze for 2016/17 which was agreed by council on the 9th February 2016.

Some highlights from the budget decisions are:

– The Council has vetoed plans to increase the price of school meals for pupils in P4 upwards.

– The out-of-hours service to investigate domestic noise complaints at weekends is to be withdrawn. The decision will take effect from 31 March and will save the council £28,000.

– By focusing resources on intervening early to tackle the causes of crime, Midlothian Council remains on target to save £250,000 by 2018.

– Most memberships of Midlothian Council’s Tonezone gyms are to go up by 3% a year.

– Councillors’ environmental improvement funds are to be cut from £13,000 to £10,000 annually. This will save £54,000. These are small pots of money which councillors can allocate to projects in their wards.

– The maximum price per hour to be cared for and supported at home, for residents under 65 years, is going up from £9.80 to £10.28, an increase of 4.9%

– A phased increase in Midlothian burial charges over the next three years will bring them in line with the Scottish average for local authorities, which will see charges rise by 14% annually over the three year period. The move is estimated to increase income to the council by £141,000 over three years

– The charge to uplift bulky items in Midlothian is to stay at £20. However, in line with many other local authorities, the first uplift of the year will no longer be free. Withdrawing the one free uplift annually per household will increase income to the council of around £62,000 in 2016/17.

– Councillors have agreed to a series of revised fees and charges for council services. The price of some evening classes, for example, will rise by 5% while other costs, such as using the Beeslack fitness suite will not change.

– Most memberships of Midlothian Council’s Tonezone gyms are to go up by 2% a year. Platinum memberships, however, are exempt from the rise.
For silver membership customers, the increase is 60 pence a month. The Golden Years membership will go up from £11.20 a month to £14.56. Currently people aged 65 and over, who are not members, pay £1 per session. This will go up to £2.00 per activity from 1 April. Meanwhile, some casual charges for sport and leisure will also rise. Adult swimming will go up from £3.90 to £4, for example.

– Free swimming for children up to 18 years will continue during the school holidays.

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