A budget by the people for the people

South Ayrshire councillors Alec  Clark, Andy Campbell, Brian McGinley and and Brian Connolly at last week's budget meeting.
South Ayrshire councillors Alec Clark, Andy Campbell, Brian McGinley and and Brian Connolly at last week's budget meeting.

South Ayrshire has heralded its approved 2018-19 financial plans as a “budget “shaped by our people, for our people”.

In agreeing how to spend its £186 million revenue budget and eight year £237 million capital programme councillors also agreed last week to raise Council Tax by 3 per cent. This will raise Council Tax for a Band D property in South Ayrshire by £35.66 – or around 69p per week – to £1,224.23 bringing in

£53.8 million to help fund and protect council services over the next year.

A sum of £1 million is being set aside for Maybole town centre regeneration.

The budget includes additional investment in key areas that support the council’s vision for Our People, Our Place: increasing the school clothing grant by 50 per cent to £75 (£66,000); £65,000 to support the schools at the heart of the community project and to provide additional holiday activities for schools in the most socially-disadvantaged areas; £20,000 to reinstate a fund to support community galas; £17,000 to cover the letting costs for breakfast clubs in schools; supporting the development of place plans for the five towns and villages programme, with £100,000 for improved signage and community engagement; and £75,000 to support staff training and retraining initiatives to ensure the council can deliver the right services in the best possible way.

They also approved funding of £71 million for the South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership, an increase of 2.5 per cent on previous years.

Like all council services, health and social care will have to meet necessary additional costs, such as funding for pay awards, and that will be reflected in how the Integrated Joint Board (which is responsible for the partnership) plans to balance its budget. Combined with Scottish Government funding via the NHS, that will come to a total of almost £79 million.

Other key spending includes: £43 million strategic investment in ICT; an additional £12 million for a new ‘all-through’ campus at Carrick Academy; £3 million more for road reconstruction and improvement; £1 million to support Maybole town centre regeneration; £750,000 to support the implementation of 20 mile per hour speed limits in towns and villages; £855,000 to improve public toilet provision.

Council leader Douglas Campbell said: “What we have agreed is an unprecedented budget for this council – a budget that has been shaped by our people, for our people.

“It’s the outcome of consultation and engagement with thousands of people across South Ayrshire who took the time to have their say – and who we have listened and responded to. As a result, this budget genuinely balances the resources we have with the services and facilities people want and need, and I want to thank those people for their participation.

“From the outset last year, we have been clear as an administration about what matters to us and that is our people and our places. They sit at the heart of everything we do and the ambitions we have not just for the council, but for the whole South Ayrshire area.”

“We want South Ayrshire to be the best it can be and for all people and places to have the opportunity to reach their full potential and, through this budget, we are laying the foundations for a strengthened South Ayrshire that works for all, but especially the most in need.

Councillor Brian McGinley, depute Leader of the council, said: “Our budget for 2018/19 is testament to our commitment to deliver for our people and our places, and targets investment and support where it can have the biggest impact.

“By boosting the monies available for the likes of clothing grants, breakfast clubs and holiday activities, we will make positive progress in tackling poverty, inequality and social injustice in South Ayrshire and supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“I’m also pleased that, on the back of the pilot of Our People, Our Place – our schools as community hubs programme – in Newton Primary and Ayr Academy, we’re putting money into making more public services, help and support available on people’s doorsteps. We know from the recent pilot that such an approach really can and will make a difference.

“We’ve also done all we can to keep the impact of the budget cuts we’ve had to make away from our frontline services – and that will continue for future years with further savings focused around our organisational structure, our properties and our ways of working.

“Given what we were facing, this budget is not only the best possible outcome; it’s a positive outcome that will make life better for our people and our places.”

At the council meeting, a new eight-year capital investment programme – which sets out total investment of almost £237 million until 2025/26 – was also agreed.