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Council leader says budget cuts mean “biggest challenge yet”

Councillor Mark Macmillan

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan has warned that the local authority faces its “biggest challenge yet” in the face of budget cuts.

Councillor Macmillan was reacting to the announcement of the Scottish Government’s annual budget for 2016/2017.

Funding from the Scottish Government makes up approximately 80% of each council’s income.

Councillor Mark Macmillan

Renfrewshire Council will meet in February 2016 to agree an annual budget for 2016/2017.

Councillor Macmillan said: “We are working now to assess the implications of the announcement but be in no doubt this is a severe cut in funding from the Scottish Government – in fact the single biggest cut imposed on local government yet – which will have serious implications for people in Renfrewshire.”

“We have consistently pointed out that Renfrewshire receives one of the lowest funding settlements and, once again, we find that Renfrewshire is not receiving its fair share with the choice being taken to apply the maximum grant reduction possible to an individual council in Renfrewshire’s case.”

“We had assumed well in advance a cut in funding and prepared best we can but this is worse than our assumptions. On top of this cut to our revenue budget which pays for vital frontline services, our capital budget for investment is almost 20% less than it was last year.”

“I think most people understand and appreciate this will have serious implications for our budget and our ability to deliver for the people of Renfrewshire. And a one-year settlement introduces some uncertainty into our plans for the longer-term change that Renfrewshire needs.

“It’s our biggest challenge yet. We’ve made it clear what our priorities are and we’re successfully delivering on them, as shown by the report to council on our Council Plan. The Invest in Renfrewshire programme has halved youth unemployment in the past three years; we’re delivering hundreds of new, affordable homes across Renfrewshire; our investment in Families First is ensuring our youngest children get the best start possible; and our £6m Tackling Poverty Fund now supports a range of initiatives making a huge difference.”

“But without the necessary long-term funding from the Scottish Government that Renfrewshire deserves, for initiatives such as these and to maintain the vital frontline council services people rely on, it becomes increasingly difficult to change things for the better.”