D&G Council Faces Financial Challenges

Councillors will be warned to expect further reductions in council funding over the next few years in a report due to go before Dumfries and Galloway Council (28 June 2016).

The report highlights key factors that will influence the future financial challenges facing it, particularly the Scottish Government’s spending review and budget, which is due to be announced in September/October this year and is expected to cover 3 financial years (2017/18 to 2019/20). Details of settlements for individual councils are unlikely to be available until December 2016.

The report highlights the fact that whilst funding available to the Scottish Government to support revenue spending over the period 2017/18 – 2019/20 is projected to increase marginally in cash terms year-on-year over that period (before the impact of changes to taxation are taken into account). However, the report stresses that it is important to recognise that commitments made by the Scottish Government to protect certain areas such as Health and Policing are expected to result in further, potentially significant cash reductions for non-protected areas including local government.

In preparation Councillors recently agreed to instigate a public consultation process over re next few months. The consultation will ask the public which services they wish the council to stop providing. It will also ask whether the public would support a council tax rise.

Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson said “Last year the council faced an enormous challenge in having to find £21m of savings. However, if anyone believes that is the end of the cuts then they are likely to be very disappointed. All the indications are that local councils will continue to see a fall in their funding from the Scottish Government. While it is extremely difficult to accurately predict the extent of the funding reductions that the Scottish Government will apply to our council, it is obvious that they will be very significant with suggestions of anywhere between £10 m and £20m of cuts again next year. The debate we will be having won’t be about tweaking budgets but about stopping services. More than half the council’s costs are paying staff to deliver services. It goes without saying that more cuts will mean fewer staff. That means being honest with the public in saying there will be some services that will have to stop as there won’t be enough people to deliver them. Over the next few months we will be asking the public which services it is they are prepared to see being stopped”

The full report is available at: http://egenda.dumgal.gov.uk/aksdumgal/users/public/admin/kab14.pl?operation=SUBMIT&meet=153&cmte=COU&grpid=public&arc=71

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