What are your priorities for the council budget?

By Aileen Maclennan

Communities are invited to tell Argyll and Bute Council which covers Cardross, Helensburgh, Rhu and Lomond, about their budget priorities by using an on-line budget calculator, now available on the council’s website.

The budget simulator provides information on the financial challenge facing Argyll and Bute’s council services, as well as the limitations and opportunities for setting a budget.

The council’s funding gap next year alone is estimated to be more than £10 million. Savings can only come from controllable parts of the council’s budget. Some areas of spend are protected by national priorities, such as teacher numbers, or are outwith the council’s control, for example inflationary costs.

The simulator lists services where savings can come from, and gives options to reduce or increase spend by different amounts until the target of £10 million is reached. There will also be options to increase income to fund services, including through council tax or fees, and information explaining the potential impact on services of the choices respondents make.

Council Leader, Councillor Robin Currie, right, said:  “We all need and use council services. And the council will continue to deliver services that support day-to-day life, and the longer term future of Argyll and Bute. However years of multi-million pound funding cuts mean that we have to prioritise what we do.

We are asking communities to tell us what their high level priorities are so that we can take them into account in the budget decisions we will have to make in February next year. This is all about working together to achieve the best outcomes we can for Argyll and Bute.”

The simulator will be open for responses until 11 August. The council will use its findings to develop options for setting its budget.

Councillor Gary Mulvaney, left, Policy Lead for Finance Services, said: “We won’t know for certain what funding Argyll and Bute is getting for its council services until the end of the year, but we have to start work now on preparing to meet the estimated funding gap. There really are no easy choices. Asking communities to give us their views is about helping us make the right choices.”

The simulator is available now on the council website – www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/budget-simulator

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