Demanding times for council finance boss

The council’s chief financial officer has said the local authority is facing increasingly ‘challenging’ financial pressures.

David Robertson made the comment in the council’s annual unaudited statement of accounts.

Mr Robertson said: “It is hard to imagine a more challenging set of financial circumstances with the reduction in resources, welfare reform, increasing demands on services, low interest rates and other influencing factors all affecting the council’s finances.”

However, he added: “The council, despite these challenges, remains financially sound and well placed to serve the people of the Borders in future.”

The detailed financial report later states: “During the year the council has again focussed on maximising savings wherever possible and has delivered a significant programme of efficiency savings in order to balance the costs of service provision to available resources.

“This focus will continue in future years when the budget setting process is expected to present a significant challenge.”

It adds: “There is a high degree of uncertainty about future levels of funding for local government.

“However, the council has determined that this uncertainty is not yet sufficient to provide an indication that the assets of the authority might be impaired as a result of a need to close facilities and reduce levels of service provision.”

Council departments made savings of £7.3m during the financial year 2012/13, and annual recurring savings of £1.45m are anticipated after 75 staff took early retirement or voluntary severance during the year. However the actual cost of these ‘exit packages’ came in at £1.88m.

In terms of senior staff remuneration, four council employees went home with over £100,000 last year, with chief executive Tracey Logan receiving £117,455.

Glenn Rodger, director of education, Andrew Lowe, head of social work, and Rob Dickson, environment and infrastructure chief, also received six-figure sums.

The accounts also reveal that the council received £1.4m from the administrators of two Icelandic banks.

However the council, which had a total of £10m invested in them when they went into administration in October 2008, has so far only recovered £6.3m.