Faced with finding savings of £6.1 million to balance the budget for the next two years the Comhairle are holding a set of public consultation meetings.
Whilst the overall cash funding for Local Government in Scotland will remain at the same level from 2012-2015 - in the Comhairle’s case the falling population means that its share of government funding is reducing by £2.2m over 2013-15.
Inflation is expected to add £3.4m to the cost of providing Comhairle services over the next two years, of which £1.2m is a provision for a 1% pay award.
The main cost pressures are in respect of welfare reform, landfill tax and change funds and are expected to add £0.5m to the Comhairle’s budget over the two years.
Savings of over £10m have been made in the last three years.
To make the necessary changes the Comhairle is looking at its use of assets, its Human Resources strategy and its arrangements for joint working. However, the majority of the savings will have to come from budget reductions.
To manage this each department has identified how it could save 10% of their operating costs. Around 120 proposals have been identified that could save up to £8.5m. As this is higher than the savings needed, this will allow the Comhairle to choose which proposals enable it to focus on its priority services.
On 1st November the Comhairle will be asked to agree which proposals will be put forward for public consultation and these will form the basis of the meetings scheduled across the Islands between 12th and 22nd November.
Comhairle Leader Angus Campbell said: “This is probably the most challenging budget process we have faced.
“There are real and severe pressures on our budgets and we have to manage a process which will allow us to meet our budgetary obligations whilst continuing to provide high quality services for our communities. We are embarking upon a period of community consultation and I would urge everyone to make their voices heard – either at the public meetings or online on the Comhairle’s website.”
The meetings are as follows:
Monday 12 November 2012, Sir E Scott School, Tarbert, 7.30pm
Tuesday 13 November 2012, Clan Macquarrie Centre, Borve, 7.30pm
Monday 19 November 2012, Castlebay School, 7.30pm
Tuesday 20 November 2012, Daliburgh School, 6.00pm
Tuesday 20 November 2012, Carinish Hall, 8.30pm
Thursday 22 November 2012, Council Chamber, 6.30pm
Further information on the budget strategy is available on the Comhairle’s website and the Comhairle would welcome any comments or suggestions.
These can be submitted by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to the Director of Finance and Corporate Resources, Council Offices, Sandwick Road, Stornoway, HS1 2BW.