Revised budget savings options proposed

Argyll and Bute Council

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Increased public transport fares, and fees for electric vehicle charging points, have been proposed by Argyll and Bute Council officers.

The two potential measures have been added to the raft of savings options for the authority to consider before it sets its budget for the 2021/22 financial year.

The proposals were introduced after the council’s budget working group removed savings options which involved pupil support assistant posts being lost.

It is estimated that a public transport fare scale increase would bring in an extra £76,000 to the council in the 2021/22 financial year, while electric vehicle charging fees would add £16,000.

The full council will meet via Skype on Thursday February 25 to determine its budget for the coming financial year and to set council tax rates.

An updated budgeting pack was presented to the authority’s policy and resources committee on February 18.

In the budget pack, executive director Kirsty Flanagan said: ‘New savings options were identified by officers and presented to the budget working group at meetings held on September 30, November 2 and November 24, 2020.

‘The budget working group agreed a suite of options which were presented to the policy and resources committee on December 10 which would deliver £3.440m in savings in 2021-22, £3.732m in 2022-23 and £4.008m in savings in future years.

‘The budget working group met again on December 18, 2020 and February 3, 2021 which has resulted in the savings options being further refined.’

The revised budget savings options outlined within the report now show that there are a total of 20 posts – equivalent to 17.7 full-time jobs – under scrutiny.

Eleven of those posts could be lost through rationalisation of the council’s property estate over three years, while four more may go through reducing the specifications for cutting grass.

However, no savings options are guaranteed to be taken and no job losses finalised until the council’s budget is agreed on February 25.

Ms Flanagan also said that if all of the officers’ suggested savings options are taken, the council stands to have a surplus of just over £3 million – but that is before considering the impact of Covid-19.

She added: ‘This is a welcome position and has arisen due to a better than anticipated financial settlement, including additional funding for local government core budgets.

‘Whilst there are a number of savings options built into these figures that could be reversed, many of them are management/operational in nature that officers will be implementing through the normal course of business and will assist with the continued challenging position in future years.’