A positive budget benefiting “every single community and neighbourhood in Renfrewshire” was agreed by councillors today (Thursday 28 February 2019).
A £412million budget for 2019-20 includes a transformational £79million package of one-off and longer-term investments.
This will see an additional £29million invested in school buildings and £40million over the next five years towards Renfrewshire roads, pathways and cycling routes.
Further targeted investments totalling £4.3million will protect the most vulnerable people in our communities, support inclusive economic growth, improve the environment, breathe new life into community facilities and enhance cultural participation.
The budget also confirms the Council’s £324million capital investment programme and supports national policies including the expansion of free early years childcare.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “Our budget is based on doing what is right for Renfrewshire today and tomorrow. That’s why we are making major investments which will bring long-lasting benefit over the coming years and putting in place funds which will benefit every single community and neighbourhood in Renfrewshire.
“We are making a massive investment in our children and young people, matching their commitment to learning by providing the best possible learning environments.
“And our roads investment is the single biggest ever of its kind in Renfrewshire, making journeys safer and easier and improving business connectivity. These significant works will complement new developments and ongoing town centre improvements and make it easier for visitors to enjoy all Renfrewshire has to offer.”
Five-year funding for Renfrewshire roads is in addition to the existing City Deal infrastructure projects in the region, while the budget sets aside £5.5million to support regeneration to the south of the Glasgow Airport Investment Area and provide greater economic connectivity between Paisley town centre and the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland.
Funds for school buildings will enable the council to unlock money from the Scottish Government’s £1billion school investment fund. There’s also immediate investment in improving facilities at Bishopton Primary; Kirklandneuk Primary, St Anthony’s Primary and Paisley Grammar School, while defibrillators will be installed across all Renfrewshire secondary schools.
Bucking the national trend, music tuition will remain free in Renfrewshire schools for the next four years through a £500,000 investment, recognising the power of culture in raising attainment and improving health and wellbeing.
The Provost’s School Exchange Fund is being established to support cultural exchanges for pupils and school road safety is bolstered by the development of a safety initiative team tackling irresponsible parking in and around schools.
Support to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities sees £1.4million for adult social care services, enabling Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) to meet increasing demand and care cost pressures.
There is a 3% increase in the allowance for Foster and Kinship Carers recognising the lifechanging contribution they make to the most vulnerable children and young people; a commitment to help secure the Living Wage for all care staff working with Renfrewshire residents and funds for more staff to be trained in supporting victims of domestic abuse.
Communities will benefit from £2.3million towards community halls, prioritising a full refurbishment of the McKillop Institute, Lochwinnoch; Elderslie Village Hall and South End Action Centre, Paisley alongside repairs to Steeple Hall, Kilbarchan.
Renfrewshire Leisure will receive funds to develop a library outreach service and there’s funds for improvements to the popular Barshaw Park pond and to develop plans for an inclusive adventure playpark.
Initiatives to support inclusive economic growth include further funds for businesses to improve their shop fronts, enhanced warden provision in Paisley town centre and money to improve priority road markings.
Building on the successes of the Team Up to Clean Up campaign, new multi-purpose litter and dog fouling bins will replace existing bins and there’s tree works planned across key locations.
Councillor Nicolson added: “Our budget reflects our on-going commitment to listen to what our communities are telling us and respects their role as partners in building success for the region over the coming years.
“It treats people fairly and builds on our multi-year investments made last year to support employability, tackle poverty and enhance the local environment.”
Also included in the budget are commitments not to introduce a workforce parking levy or any form of new household waste collection charges.
Council Tax will increase by 4.79% – equivalent to a weekly increase of £1.10 on a Band D property – with £1.3million of income it generates ring-fenced to drive the school and roads investment.
The budget includes £19million of efficiency savings through initiatives including the Better Council Change Programme, the council having delivered £117million of savings since 2010.
Councillor John Shaw, Finance, Resources and Customer Services Convener, said: “We are in a stable financial position and this has enabled us to put forward such a positive budget.
“At the same time we understand the challenging financial outlook facing all local councils and that’s why our investments support our priorities beyond the financial year and safeguard services for the future.”