I am always pleased to hear from you with questions you have for me. This week I’ve been asked about the council’s budget, and also about the long term future for local government.
With funding being increasingly limited across the public sector, work is being done at different levels to develop a sustainable future for councils. Communities will go on needing us; but we can only do what funding and resources allow.
Here are key examples of work that’s happening to develop the way forward:
Improvement Service Local Government Transformation: this looks at transforming how we work based on 6 approaches.
Verity House Agreement: this was developed with the intention of creating a new, more flexible working relationship between local and national government.
Public sector reform (at item 6 on the agenda): this covers various things, including the potential for a ‘single authority model’ bringing together public sector work and funding for an area.
What does it all mean for us at this stage?
Running through it all is a focus on collaboration and partnership working; with other agencies and with communities. It’s about looking outside our own service and outside the council to share efforts and resources and stretch what we have. There’s obviously a lot more to it than that, but at this stage, that point is worth holding on to. It ties in with the ‘themes not teams’ approach that we are developing here, and builds on the great examples of partnership working that we’re already delivering.
We continue to assess the consequences of the Scottish Government (SG) funding settlement for councils. In brief, SG funding overall is only funding council tax increases to around 2.8% rather than the 5% or higher that councils had planned to support their revenue (service) budgets. And we are looking at a shortfall of at least £20 million in our capital budget which funds buildings, roads reconstruction and other infrastructure projects.
In advance of the budget-setting meeting on 22nd February, we are preparing reports to go to Policy and Resources Committee on 15 February. The papers will be published on 8th and I’ll tell you more about them before then.
Delivering our services
Amidst all of this, our communities need our support, they need the day-to-day services you are delivering. And services across the council are doing a great job in what I know can be difficult circumstances. Please do find out about the Employee assistance programme and how it could help you.
Thank you for the efforts you go to for Argyll and Bute and please do get in touch with any questions you have for me at firstname.lastname@example.org