A budget which delivers a Council Tax freeze and helps everyone in Renfrewshire recover from the profound impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has been agreed by councillors today (Thursday 4 March 2021).
The £449.8million budget prioritises people’s wellbeing with targeted support for those communities most affected by Covid-19.
It also confirms continuation of the £443.5million capital investment programme well underway across Renfrewshire, which includes record-level spending on roads and paths investment and town centre regeneration.
And there’s a programme of investment to enhance the safe enjoyment of popular outdoor local spaces, additional funding for adult social care, new schemes for local businesses and an increase to school facility funds.
Some £2.7million will tackle inequalities and alleviate household financial hardship, building on pioneering programmes well underway tackling poverty and improving the lives of people impacted by drug and alcohol addiction.
Full details are being developed in collaboration with community groups and organisations across Renfrewshire to provide financial support and advice, access to digital services, support physical and mental wellbeing and help children, young people and families.
Confirmed initial investments will include a £250,000 boost in funding for children and young people’s mental health, £180,000 support for care experienced young people and £200,000 for the rollout of a book gifting programme for all 2 to 5-year-old children in Renfrewshire.
There’s also £100,000 for Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau to provide employment and redundancy rights advice, the creation of a specialist team advocating for vulnerable private sector tenants and a £100,000 boost to the fund helping people with housing costs.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “I am indebted to our communities, to healthcare and Council staff who have provided lifeline support to those most in need throughout the past year.
“As we start to see positive signs of emerging from this pandemic, our budget will support Renfrewshire’s recovery and renewal from the profound impact of the last 12 months.
“Freezing Council Tax provides households with some certainty at a time of continued financial challenge for many, while our budget prioritises wellbeing and ensures support reaches those people in our communities who have felt the impacts of the pandemic most keenly.
“We are continuing in our commitment to support the most vulnerable people in Renfrewshire and deliver significant capital investment when our economy needs it most, creating jobs and boosting inclusive growth.”
Also outlined in today’s budget is £1.5million to enhance Council-owned play areas, create better walking routes at Clyde Muirshiel and the Gleniffer Braes and clear paths in urban areas.
Measures to reduce traffic and promote safer walking within rural Renfrewshire villages are also being considered and £250,000 will create safe road crossing facilities on school walking routes.
An increase in funding for school facility improvements will enable a two-year £2.4million investment by the end of March 2022.
Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership will receive £2.3million of additional recurring resources, which will enhance adult social care services, recognise the role of carers and work to secure the Living Wage for all care staff helping Renfrewshire residents.
And adding to the many Council and Scottish Government supports in place for Renfrewshire businesses, £100,000 will be used to create a grant scheme refunding licensed premises for license costs when they have been required by law to close, while hot food businesses will benefit from an incentive scheme supporting a move to bio-degradable packaging.
Councillor John Shaw, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Finance, Resources and Customer Services Policy Board, said: “Our budget tackles inequalities, improves the lives of children and young people, makes the most of our great outdoors, bolsters social care services and helps local communities, ensuring that together, we come out the other side stronger and more resilient than ever.
“Our budget has been carefully considered to maintain the Council’s financial stability over the next few years and by supporting our communities and those who need it most, we want to support everyone to thrive in the months and years ahead.”