Council budget details revealed by leadership

Almost £29 million of savings need to be made over the next five years by Scottish Borders Council yet they still have ambitious plans for the region.

Outlining its budget proposals for next year, the council’s administration is looking at updating its revenue plan and £271 million 10-year capital programme.

Duns Primary School

Duns Primary School

These budget plans will go before the full council next Thursday.

Capital programme highlights include: £7.1m (spread across years 2014/15, 15/16 and 16/17) for Duns Primary School relocation, including a ‘locality support centre’; and £300,000 for Reston Station (over 2016/17 and 17/18).

Speaking about Reston Station, council leader, Councillor David Parker, said: “I am very confident it will open in the next couple of years, but we will have to make a financial commitment to it.

“It will be a huge boost to the eastern Borders.”

Revenue highlights include: no council tax increase in 2014/15, which will be frozen at 2007/08 levels for the seventh successive year; approval for 200 new affordable homes has already been granted; extra funding for social work services, including £3.4 million extra for elderly care packages and extra money for free personal care; extra funding of £1.165 million per annum to expand the early years services.

The equivalent of 63 full-time council posts are expected to go in the coming financial year, but most are expected to come from ‘natural wastage’ and removal of vacant posts, with 13 early retirements or voluntary severances also factored in.

With additional pressures of almost £34 million expected over the next five years, changes to how services are delivered are expected to make a considerable contribution to the savings that will be necessary.

These include a review of cultural services, which may see them run by an arms-length trust, similar to sports facilities, and changes to employee terms and conditions which will save over £3.5 million by 2019.

Parker added: “We asked members of the public what they wanted to spend the money on. They asked for extra spending on things like schools, infrastructure and older people’s services and that’s exactly what we’re proposing.

“We have to save £28 million over five years, and at the same time we are having a whole host of increased pressures coming from demands for certain types of services, and there is less money to deliver those services.

“It has been a challenge, but the administration has worked hard with our officers to try and deliver programmes that meet the needs of the Borders’ public.”