Councillors have agreed a number of focussed plans and actions for the future as part of the Making Clackmannanshire Better (MCB) budget programme, to ensure that the changes needed to deliver essential services are met while delivering financial sustainability for the Council in the challenging years ahead.
The Council's revenue budget of £115.211 million for the year ahead was agreed at today's Special Council meeting. The 2015/16 budget also included savings of £3.017m.
Council tax is to be frozen for the eighth year, maintaining bills at 2007/08 levels. This results in Band D remaining at £1,148.
The budget was significantly influenced by feedback gathered from communities during the budget consultation process. A series of option appraisals and reviews are planned to deliver savings for the future, and key stakeholders will be engaged in the development and scrutiny of these proposals.
Council Leader Les Sharp said: "The Council has faced some serious challenges in setting our budget within an atmosphere of austerity in the public sector. We have worked hard to listen to our communities and create and deliver a budget which sets out a clear and explicit direction for the future delivery of essential services in Clackmannanshire.
"This budget takes the lessons we've already learned from the Making Clackmannanshire Better programme and embeds them into our planning for the future. It's clear that we cannot get there in one leap, and it is necessary to listen to our stakeholders and make investment to support the programme"
The framework of the agreed budget is based around a number of key structures:
The budget process has also identified a range of other enablers which seek to ensure the Council is making best use of planned investment to support service redesign and/or reduce costs. These include:
Capital funding of £9.475m will be invested in projects in the year ahead to support the MCB programme. Planned investments include:
Councillor Sharp continued: "We are making some significant capital investments to support our budget priorities, which I believe will make a real difference to the people of Clackmannanshire. A number of new projects have been identified to allow the Council to take forward new models of service delivery, for instance a shared service initiative to develop a Council owned children's residential unit."
Over £13 million will be invested in Clackmannanshire's Council housing including new build during the forthcoming financial year. Councillors also agreed a rent rise increase of 3.75% for 2015/16, which will also apply to lock-up garages and garage pitch sites. This increase was consulted on widely during the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan review in 2013.
As illustrated in the Scottish Social Housing Charter Landlord Report, Clackmannanshire Council rents are between £5 (1 and 2 bedroom properties) and £15 (4 bedroom properties) lower than the Scottish average, with costs for management and maintenance estimated to be lower for Clackmannanshire Council in 2015/16 (£1,744 per house) than the average cost for Scotland in 2012/13 (last available data) of £1,845 per house.
Clackmannanshire Council's attainment of the Scottish Housing Quality Standard is currently at 90.8%. The Clackmannanshire Standard is progressing well with completion scheduled for the end of 2015/16. This includes 145 replacement kitchens within amenity housing. The bathroom programme will also be completed by the end of June 2015, and means the service will have replaced 2,900 bathrooms in the last 3 years.
Councillor Sharp said: "Clackmannanshire rents will be maintained at a value for money level, especially when considered alongside the quality of our housing stock. Our continued commitment to investing in Council housing and our plans to work alongside a registered social landlord in the future to deliver new build housing can bring benefits for tenants and the Council."