When it met last week (Thursday 15 November), Council considered the latest update in the agreed cycle of reports for the development of the 2019/20 Budget.
Budget preparation is well underway, with officers identifying the cost of delivering current services for 2019/20 and developing budget saving proposals to address the financial gap, which is indicatively £9.493 million based on current known factors and key economic indicators. However, a number of risks and challenges remain and these have the potential to further increase the levels of savings required in future financial years.
Joint Council Leader Councillor Vaughan Moody confirmed the Council’s approach. He said, “In September we agreed our Council priorities for the coming years when we adopted our Working with the People of East Dunbartonshire: Prioritising our Services, Prioritising our Resources programme. We are aware that we continue to face challenging financial decisions given our forecast level of funding gap. But we are planning for this and developing all possible options, through our agreed approach, prior to taking any decisions in February for the coming financial year.”
The Prioritising our Services, Prioritising our Resources programme commits to the Local Outcome Improvement Plan vision of ‘Working together to achieve the best with the people of East Dunbartonshire’. It emphasises the principles the Council values, including co-production and engagement, best value, prevention and early intervention, sustainability and evidence-based planning. And it sets out a robust options appraisal approach to prioritise the allocation of resources.
Joint Council Leader Andrew Polson added, “Our budget planning process is aligned to our defined priorities and demonstrates our commitment to balancing the books yet delivering the best local services we can. Our recent positive report from Audit Scotland acknowledged that our financial management is effective with budget setting focussed on priorities. It also recognised that our financial position is sustainable in the foreseeable future and we will ensure this remains the case.”
The UK Budget was presented on 29 October and the Scottish Budget will be delivered on 12 December with Local Government implications being circulated the following week on 18 December. The next financial update for East Dunbartonshire will be considered at the Council meeting on 20 December. Reports will have been prepared ahead of the 18 December key date so will still reflect estimated expenditure, but a verbal update will be provided to reflect the impact of the Scottish Budget.