The most urgent issues facing the Borders have been identified by the council, and armed with the information action is now being taken.
Economic and social issues head the ‘red’ list of issues of real concern for the region. A programme of work based on these areas has been drawn up for the region so that all public bodies direct the money that is spent where it’s most needed.
SBC’s chief executive, Tracey Logan said: “It has never been more important for the community planning partnership to have a clear understanding of ‘place’ as public sector finances shrink and we are being asked to do more with less.”
A report has been presented to the Borders community planning strategic board; representatives from the council, NHS Borders; Scottish Enterprise; Scottish Police; Scottish Fire and Rescue; Borders College; Scottish Borders Community Development Company; and four local housing associations.
It reads: “Our local economy is being particularly adversely affected and combined with an increasing population, changing social conditions (including the impact of the Welfare Reform Act), higher fuel and energy prices and trends in extreme weather conditions, the public sector is facing unprecedented challenges.”
The region’s tourism industry is starting to show signs of being affected by the economic climate.
Town centre vacancy rates remain a concern and broadband connections are still too patchy all causing concern for the region’s economic health.
Weekly earnings levels lag behind the Scottish average, particularly for those working in the Borders rather than commuting out of the region.
The number of 16-24 year old on Jobseekers Allowance and the number of people in long-term unemployment has increased significantly too.
By 2035 it is estimated that the working age population in the region will go down to 52 per cent. It was 62 per cent in 2010.
The report goes on to flag up health issues in the region. “There are indications that lifestyles in the Borders are increasingly contributing to ill-health and in relation to alcohol, obesity and smoking.”
An increase in the reported incidents of domestic violence and theft is also on the ‘red’ list.
A 15-item ‘amber’ list of concern has also been drawn to the attention of all community partners.