Budget is set for 2013/14

COUNCIL tax will be frozen for a seventh year following Angus Council’s annual budget.

Band D council tax will remain at £1,072, excluding water charges, for 2013/14.

For the first time, the budget setting process has involved administration and non-administration elected members.

The process has been more transparent and collaborative than in previous years, with members of different parties working together with the shared purpose of creating a budget for the good of the county.

Independent councillor Brian Boyd, said: “We have worked hard to ensure this budget makes the most of a very difficult situation for Angus.

“The team Angus spirit led by the SNP administration makes a refreshing professional change from the often fractious negotiations that characterised previous budget rounds, where funding went to those with pet projects who shouted the loudest rather than what was best for Angus as a whole.

“I also feel the local SNP group should be commended for sticking to their pre-election budget pledges for financial assistance towards the Carnoustie Business Park as stated in their last two alternative budgets.

“So often in politics pledges are broken after elections and its good to see this not happening in Angus.”

Only 19 per cent of the council’s budget is raised from council tax, which has been at the same level since 2006. Scottish Government grants make up the remaining 81 per cent and for the second year that has effectively been a cash flat settlement. For 2013/14 an additional £8 million is needed in the budget to cover service developments, new burdens, pay awards/increments and increased contributions to special funds.

A savings package of just over £6 million will bring the budget back into balance, along with a contribution from general fund balances and additional council tax revenue from new properties.

Over £5.6 million of the savings package comes from departmental budgets, with the remainder delivered by corporate efficiencies.

Departmental savings have been achieved by a combination of trimming service budgets, managing vacancies, increasing income and efficiency savings.

Last year, a review identified that the council’s capital plan was oversubscribed by around 49 per cent over the next five years. This gap between projects proposed and funds available is the so-called ‘black hole’.

The strategic direction, affordability and sustainability of the capital plan were reviewed at the end of last year. Projects were reprioritised and the level of oversubscription was reduced to 12 per cent.

Since December financial flexibility has improved thanks to further Scottish Government capital grant and an additional £4.2m being made available from a significant debt reprofiling exercise undertaken by the council. This means available capital resources have been increased by almost £10 million, to £99 million, over the five years.

As a consequence some of the deferred projects will now be progressed within the next five years including £2.6 million for the Brechin Flood Prevention Scheme, £2 million for the roll out of high speed broadband coverage in Angus beyond 75 per cent, £1 million to assist with infrastructure costs for a Carnoustie Business Park, £3.4 million as match funding to assist businesses with the proposals for Montrose South Regeneration.

These projects can only be delivered in co-operation with external partners and will require significant additional capital injections from those partners.

Council leader Ian Gaul said: “I would like to thank all councillors who have taken part in the setting of the 2013/14 budget.

“This has been Team Angus in action with administration and non-administration councillors working together for Angus.

“Together we have produced a balanced budget, realigned our capital plan and have made Angus Council ready to face the hard financial times that lie ahead.”