“Simply put, Midlothian needs more money”

Monday February 6th 2023


Kelly Parry, The Leader of Midlothian Council and Midlothian West Councillor (SNP).

This View has been written by Kelly Parry, The Leader of Midlothian Council.

No-one wants to hear that council tax bills will go up or that there will be reductions to services but truth of the matter is that both will need to happen for the council to balance it’s budget and fill an almost £14 million gap.

The economic challenges we currently face are not unique to the Council, and many residents and businesses across Midlothian and beyond are feeling the bite. A shambolic ‘mini budget’, sky rocketing inflation, huge increases in construction inflation, rising energy costs and wage bills, escalating energy costs and economic headwinds make for the perfect storm for the Council, and other public sector bodies.

Simply put, Midlothian needs more money, but it’s a difficult argument to make that it should come at the expense of less money for the NHS, Police Scotland, justice services and public sector pay increases. These are all vital services. Something has to give way – Midlothian needs a funding settlement that reflects the huge growth of our communities, and the Scottish Parliament needs a better settlement from Westminster to address this, with urgency.

The Councils other main source of money is Council Tax, however, Council Tax only funds about a fifth of the council’s budget. It does not pay for all the services, staff and buildings that we currently use. In order to plug the full £14 million gap, we would need to put council tax up by 23% – this is clearly not an option during a cost of living crisis.

In order to minimise council tax increases, it means we need to reduce costs elsewhere. That ultimately means reducing funding for services, funding to external organisations we fund or closing buildings to reduce overheads. None of that is easy, and none of it will be painless, and none of it is what Councillors would like to do.

Through the engagement process it has been really clear our residents really value the work that Councils do and the services we provide. But as Councils are rightly being asked to protect areas such as education, social work and health & social care that reduces the amount of flexibility we have to spend on our budgets elsewhere. That is why the savings proposals that Council Officers have proposed for Councillors to consider contain bigger reductions to the remaining part of our spending – deemed to be ‘non-statutory’ services, but in reality they are vital to our communities.

All Councillors in Midlothian are working together to look at how we can minimise the impact. We all desperately want to be able to fund services like music tuition for our young people, supporting our third sector and looking after our county and our environment, and we will do our best within the resources that we have. Prioritising the tackling of poverty and other social inequalities continues to be my top priority.

Councillors don’t take decisions lightly, but we do so in the best interests of Midlothian, within the funding that we have. We will seek to strike the right balance and we will listen to our residents.”

You can view the savings proposals and let Councillors know about your priorities by visiting the Midlothian Council website HERE. Printed copies are also available in Council buildings and by request.

Tweet Share on Facebook  

Subscribe to the Midlothian View newsletter

Support Midlothian View from as little as £1. It only takes a minute. Thank you.

Comments are closed.