More Scottish councils set their budgets


More Scottish councils have been setting their budgets for 2011/12 against a 2.6% drop in funding from the Scottish government.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) said it was protecting development and investment.

Stirling and Perth and Kinross councils said they were freezing the council tax as well as investing in services.

Renfrewshire council said frontline services and local priorities would be protected in its annual budget.

The Western Isles Council Band D Council tax level was set at £1,024, which it said remained the lowest in Scotland, against a drop in the budget of £5.1m.

A council spokesman also said the Barra/Benbecula Air Service would be maintained after the council identified an additional £70,000.

Leader of the council Angus Campbell said: "This budget has been the most challenging that we have had to address during my time with the Comhairle."

'Balanced budget'

Mr Campbell added: "We recognised last year that the changing demography of our islands is going to be a long-term pressure area for both ourselves and the Health Board and we have put an additional £327,000 into social and community services budgets, which includes an increase of around 2% in Home Care hours.

"On capital, through two schemes, we will invest £5m in our roads and £2m in our properties over the next three years.

"This will not only enhance our assets but also provide work for contractors."

Mr Campbell highlighted that the council had made no compulsory redundancies but had reduced the workforce by about 60 posts entirely on a voluntary basis.

Perth & Kinross Council agreed a freeze on council tax and approved a three-year budget which councillors said invested additional funding of almost £2m in key services while also meeting its savings target of £23m by 2014.

Under the budget, the Band D council tax level will remain at £1,158 for the fifth year running.

Council leader Ian Miller said: "I am proud of what this council has been able to achieve in the face of unprecedented financial challenges.

"We are protecting crucial services and have also been able to invest additional funding where it is most needed.

"At the same time we have set a budget today that will ensure we achieve our significant savings target."

'Real Improvements'

Stirling's budget has dropped by nearly £6m, to £212.2m. The local authority said it had focused on protecting vital services.

Its Band D council tax will remain at £1,209 for a fourth year running and council house tenants will see their rents rise by 4.1%.

Council Leader Graham Houston said: "This budget is the result of a 12-month consultative process involving some of the other political parties and the people we serve in Stirling. We are facing challenging times head on."

Renfrewshire Council said its 2011/12 budget, which dropped by more than £10m, prioritised education, with the service making 4.16% savings compared with an average 8.3% savings across all departments.

Councillors said that net spending on departments in 2011/12 included £146.6m on education, £85.9m on social work and £25.9m on environmental services.

'Tough choices'

This year's budget will also see a £5.2m investment in roads - the biggest spending on roads in a single year by the council.

There will also be a fourth successive council tax freeze.

Council leader Derek Mackay said: "Overall, Renfrewshire Council has faced up to our responsibilities."

He added: "We are still delivering real improvements for Renfrewshire and are protecting our communities as far as we can from the continuing funding difficulties we all face in the public sector.

"And Renfrewshire will continue to engage with the public as we face other tough choices in the years ahead."

The majority of Scottish councils set their budgets last week. The only authority still to do so is Midlothian.

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