South Scotland

Scottish Borders Council plans 3% tax increase

Scottish Borders Council Image copyright Google

Residents in the Scottish Borders are facing a 3% increase in council tax, under plans drawn up by the local authority's administration.

The draft budget outlines plans to spend £22m on roads and bridges over the next three years.

But the ruling Conservative/Independent coalition also wants to remove 35 full-time posts from the pay roll.

Council leader Shona Haslam said the budget would "improve the lives of Borderers".

The draft budget includes:

  • £2.1m over three years for new and improved outdoor community spaces
  • £282,000 for a community policing team to prevent low level criminal activity and deal with issues such as parking
  • £4.8m for a specialist dementia residential facility
  • Over £22m investment in roads and bridges over three years, with £79m planned investment over the next 10 years
  • £89m to improve the school estate over 10 years
  • £8.3m contribution to the £41m Hawick Flood Protection Scheme
  • £2m towards the re-opening of Reston Station
  • £799,000 to support the regeneration of Eyemouth
  • £1m to assist in delivering town centre regeneration
  • £2m for road safety works at the A72 Dirtpot Corner in 2018/19

Ms Haslam said: "We have developed a budget which builds on opportunities and improves the lives of Borderers, whatever their age. It focuses on delivering quality services, opportunities for all in a thriving economy, empowering communities and enabling people to live independently and achieve their goals.

"We are committed to investing in services to help the most vulnerable in society, both young and old, deliver improvements to our roads, build new schools and support businesses by stimulating the local economy and improving our town centres.

"This budget also protects teacher numbers and frontline council services, whilst also recognising that we must modernise service delivery and make efficiencies."

She added: "We are proposing a 3% increase in council tax, which will generate around £1.6m for next year's budget.

"Council tax makes up less than a quarter of all the funding we receive, and this increase is only the second in 10 years, during which time the funds we receive from other sources has reduced and demand for services has increased."

Scottish Borders Council proposed council tax changes
Band 2017/18 charge Proposed 2018/19 charge
A £744.35 £766.68
B £868.40 £894.46
C £992.46 £1,022.24
D £1,116.52 £1,150.02
E £1,466.98 £1,510.99
F £1,814.35 £1,868.78
G £2,186.52 £2,252.11
H £2,735.47 £2,817.54

The draft budget also outlines a series of savings proposals, including reducing energy usage and staff travel.

And council leaders said they hoped to avoid any compulsory redundancies.

Meanwhile, the SNP and Liberal Democrat opposition have offered a joint alternative budget.

They said they would dedicate another £16m "to keep the school building programme on track" - funding another two new high schools.

They would also spend another £2m on roads, and set up a £1.2m "fairness fund" to tackle poverty and isolation.

Last year the Scottish government ended its long-running council tax freeze, allowing local authorities to raise the basic rate by a maximum of 3%.

The budget will be discussed at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council on 20 February.

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