Finance Leader comments on Council departments achieving budget targets

Statement from Councillor Phil Wheeler, Convenor of the Finance and Resources committee.

Today's Full Council meeting is considering a report on the Council's accounts for 2009/2010.

For the first time since the Council was created in 1996, all departments came in under budget in 2009/2010. While the Council overall has always balanced its books, there have been concerted efforts in the last few years to make sure every area acts fully on its responsibility to work within its means.
 
This is just one way that we have improved the financial management in the Council. We have also delivered record efficiency savings and made significant progress on restoring essential reserves. Under this administration's leadership, officers have taken major steps towards preparing us for the major challenges ahead and I commend their efforts.  
 
However, we already faced cuts as a result of the UK budget deficit and the chancellor's announcement yesterday will add to that. George Osborne said that the budget figures imply an average real reduction of around 25% over four years for much of the public sector. We will not know exactly how that will impact on the Council for some time yet, because there will be more detail to follow the budget. Crucially, we need to see how any cuts might affect Scotland's budget allocation and how the Scottish Government decides to respond.
 
Whatever emerges, the Council has acted to prepare for future funding reductions. We have saved money by streamlining management and backroom functions, providing frontline services such as homecare more efficiently, and changing how we buy products and services. We are also looking to see if working with the private sector and other public sector organisations can help us deliver better services for less money.  
 
This is all essential, but it will not be enough. There are huge questions about what the Council does and how it does it. While we can be proud of the progress we have made in recent years, the next few will pose an even greater challenge. That's why our recently announced public engagement on the budget is so important and I would encourage everyone to come forward with their concerns and priorities for the future.

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