Councillors have agreed a number of actions building on the Making Clackmannanshire Better (MCB) service delivery mode to deliver financial sustainability in challenging times. The budget agreed today (23 February) is taking the next steps in rolling out the Community Investment Strategy to deliver better integrated and customer focussed services with a strong geographical focus, incorporating the cluster model and locality based hubs.
The Council's revenue budget of £112.684 million for the year ahead was agreed at today's Special Council meeting. The 2016/17 budget also included savings of £7.805million. Council tax is to be frozen for the ninth year, maintaining bills at 2007/08 levels. This results in Band D remaining at £1,148.
Councillors heard that there is a cumulative funding gap of £17.988 million to 2019/20. The Employment Fund has been increased to £4.7 million in order to finance the voluntary release of staff. A report on the uptake of targeted voluntary redundancy will be brought
back to Council once the indicative uptake has been confirmed. The saving agreed at Council will result in a reduction of 106.58 full time equivalent posts (FTEs), of which 25.9FTEs are currently vacant. Council-wide organisation-redesign is also planned as part of Making Clackmannanshire Better.
The budget was influenced by feedback gathered from communities and staff during the budget consultation process.
Council Leader Les Sharp said: "There is no doubt that the budget setting process has been extremely challenging this year. This budget has a strong focus on change and allows us to take further significant steps to Make Clackmannanshire Better and ensuring that the Council has a sustainable future to allow us to deliver essential services. We have set out Phase 1 of the implementation of the Cluster Model , and continued the process of streamlining service delivery and takes action to address the managed contraction in staffing. We have also retained the Council's reserves above the minimum level."
During 2015/16, work has been taken forward in preparing a number of MCB business cases in line with Council approval of the budget in February 2015. A core of four business cases have been developed and consolidated to create a cluster model. These core strategic business cases are:
- School estate (and wider utilisation of council assets)
- Community Hubs Model
- Leisure Review
- Workforce Planning
The cluster model is defined as a hierarchy of locally based hubs as follows:
- Three community clusters: Service delivery clustered around academies and serving local settlements groupings of 15 to 20k residents. Each cluster has a community campus where the academy provides access to a range of integrated community and leisure services for its cluster area.
- Leisure Hub: a strategic leisure facility which serves the whole county or is provided as part of a community campus
- Locality Hub: an integrated community and/or leisure facility which serves a minimum population of 2,500 residents
Capital funding of £5.356 million will be invested in projects in the year ahead to support the MCB programme. Planned investments include:
- Work on community investment strategy, developing local hubs
- Refurbishment of a number of primary schools, including a new school and community campus at Tullibody South
- Village and Town Centre Initiative - building on improvement work already successfully delivered or underway in Sauchie and Tullibody
Councillor Sharp continued: "We are making some significant capital investments to support our budget priorities including the Community Investment Strategy, to deliver joined up and integrated service delivery to our communities. We will be developing the local hubs to support our delivery of Making Clackmannanshire Better, and improving our schools estate including the building of a new community campus in Tullibody South."
Over £13.5 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 3.5% for 2016/17, which will also apply to lock-up garages and garage pitch sites. This increase was consulted on during November and December 2015.
The average weekly rent based on 52 weeks will be £70.01.
The Clackmannanshire Standard is now complete.
Councillor Sharp said: "We continue to maintain reasonable rents in Clackmannanshire, at the same time as delivering very good quality housing stock. Excellent progress has been made in delivering the Scottish Housing Quality Standard, and the local Clackmannanshire Standard is now complete. The agreed budget also allows the Council to make capital investment, including new build housing and home energy improvement projects."