Scottish Borders Council has received its annual report card on how it has performed over the past 12 months, and it makes for mixed reading.
In 2013, the council’s five year plan was to ‘provide the best quality of life for all the people in the Scottish Borders, prosperity for local businesses and good health and resilience for communities’.
The plan included eight priority areas, and every year councillors receive a report on how they are doing in respect of those priorities – economy; education attainment; care, support and protection; communities and voluntary sector; environment; workforce; assets and resources; and service excellence.
There are areas where the council has performed well, the economy and building affordable housing, and others where there is room for improvement and targets have been missed, such as employment rates, roads, school exclusions and the number of looked-after children in a family placement.
Kelso councillor Simon Mountford explained: “This report not only highlights improvements in areas such as the time taken to process planning applications, attainment, funding for communities and energy consumption, but we can also see targets being exceeded in relation to social work assessments and the collection of council tax, with money collected in 2016-17 increasing by £1.285m compared to the same period in 2015-16, resulting in an in year collection rate of 96.63%, which is the second highest collection level achieved in the last 10 years.
“Of course there are areas for improvement. This includes ensuring that as many children as possible are in family-based placement, continuing to invest in our roads, our ongoing work with partners to reduce road accidents and ensuring that all complaints are dealt with, within timescales set nationally.
“Our regular performance reports each quarter should demonstrate to the public that their money is being used effectively and that investment in key areas is having a positive impact, for example on the wider economy and on quality of life.”
One area that has seen big changes is the number of adults aged 65-plus receiving care at home, rather than a residential care home – up from 72% to 76% in a year.
The number of social care clients now using self-directed support to choose their own care needs now stands at 59%, with still some way to go for the council to reach its aim to have all clients doing so by the end of 2018.