Council balances long-term budget to protect priority services

Edinburgh City

-Vital public services protected under 3 year budget
- Record investment for new schools and new homes
- Long-term plans to address inequality and climate change

Reducing carbon emissions and tackling poverty will drive the City of Edinburgh Council’s budget until 2023.

Elected members have today (20 February) agreed a balanced three-year budget, maximising the funding the Council has available for priority services and paving the way for record investment in new low-carbon schools and affordable homes.

In response to public consultation, the package of spending of over £1 billion forms part of the Capital’s ambitious Change Strategy approved by Councillors today. It details six programmes with practical steps, each designed to prioritise the wellbeing and life chances of all residents and accelerate action to address climate change in this Council budget and beyond.

Cllr Adam McVey, Council Leader, said: “We’ve agreed a bold budget which protects the most vulnerable in society and provides a fairer quality of life for future generations. It prioritises those Council services which work to help those who are most in need of our support - protecting our young people, our communities and our planet in the process.

“In the face of growth and a global climate emergency, we’ve outlined plans for the biggest investment ever to be made into new and affordable homes in Edinburgh.

“The people of Edinburgh have told us they want their city to address climate change, to be inclusive and for frontline services to be protected. That is what we are delivering with a budget which invests in the services our city needs. I’d like to thank fellow Councillors for standing up for a plan which is fair and sustainable.”

Cllr Cammy Day, Depute Leader, said: “The plans passed today support new schools, sustainability and the regeneration of this city and I’m pleased we’ve been able to – yet again – agree a balanced budget, despite the ongoing financial uncertainty we and all local authorities face. This forward-thinking approach will provide much greater certainty to residents, to workers and to partners right across the city and will help us tackle poverty in all its forms.

“Under today’s budget, this Council is committing to do all that we can with the resources we have to improve residents’ lives and protect those services which are vital to our most vulnerable citizens. This will be supported by the thousands of new, affordable homes we’ll help to build and the community regeneration we’ve pledged to deliver. For too long we’ve turned our back on our fantastic waterfronts and this budget plan will allow us to move forward with our plans to regenerate Granton, providing new homes and a fantastic community for people to work and visit.”

The Council will make required savings of £35m over the next 12 months and planned savings of around £87m over the next three years, while targeting spend and policies to be fair on people and planet. This will include support for:

Much needed new homes

  • The biggest funding on record for thousands of new homes by unlocking £2.5bn of investment, working with housing associations to provide more and better Council homes as part of a longer-term commitment to construct 20,000 affordable new homes by 2027.  At the same time, we will continue to invest in current Council homes and services to reduce tenants' living costs through initiatives to reduce energy costs and our carbon footprint
  • Redeveloping key sites such as Granton Waterfront, which will receive around £196m in Council funding to support delivery of affordable, eco-friendly homes, attracting £450m additional public and private sector funding to create a vibrant and inclusive coastal community
  • Providing £2m of additional funding to provide more appropriate temporary accommodation whilst enhancing early intervention and prevention initiatives. 

New schools and access to education

  • Through raising Council Tax by 4.79%, we will generate more than £16m of extra funding over three years to invest in the Council’s key priorities, including supporting the delivery of new or refurbished Wave Four schools, providing communities in Balerno, Currie, Liberton, Trinity and Wester Hailes with new and upgraded schools
  • Investing £9.1m to address rising school rolls, as well as continued £3.6m Positive Action Funding and more than £7m of Pupil Equity Funding pledged by the Scottish Government, to tackle the attainment gap
  • £77m on Early Years services, providing 1,140 hours of funded Early Learning and Childcare provision for all three and four year-olds and eligible two year-olds by August 2020
  • Free school meals for almost 5,000 pupils in our schools, in addition to universal provision  for pupils in P1-P3. We will also provide £0.5m in clothing grant support. 

Putting wellbeing at the heart of services and supporting social care

  • Increasing the Council's spend on health and social care services by over £8m to a total £226m, supporting the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board's work to drive down delayed discharges to successfully get people home or into a safe and homely setting, sooner
  • In redesigning Council services to promote wellbeing and protect access to services to those who are most in need, spending £9.5m to complete Edinburgh's new Meadowbank sports centre 
  • Investing £2m in mental health and counselling services for our young people, as well as continuing to invest £3.5m in the Communities and Families grant programme, with an emphasis on youth work, promoting well-being and supporting personal and social development.

Work to become Scotland's sustainable carbon-zero Capital

  • Building on the 20% reduction in carbon emissions the Council achieved last year, continue plans to attain net-zero carbon city status by 2030 in the face of a climate emergency
  • Contribute £29.5m into a Zero Waste treatment centre at Millerhill which will supply power to more than 30,000 homes across the Edinburgh region
  • Spend £10.7m to complete the conversion of Edinburgh's 64,000 streetlights to LED lights
  • Continue work to complete the extension of the tram network to Newhaven, with no additional call on core Council budgets.

Action plans to invest £17.8m over 10 years towards cycling projects and £123m towards improving roads and pavements, as well as substantial repairs and maintenance expenditure as part of the revenue budget.     

Feedback during public consultation confirmed the majority of residents would support a Council Tax rise if used to support key services. A rise of 4.79% - below the maximum level – will allow us to invest more in the city’s key priorities, including supporting the delivery of new or refurbished Wave Four schools.  

For those who need more help to pay, we will also provide over £25m in Council Tax Reduction Scheme support.

The tax band levels for Edinburgh in 2020/21 will come into effect on 1 April 2020 and will be:

A - £892.39

B - £1,041.13

C - £1,189.86

D - £1,338.59

E - £1,758.76

F - £2,175.21

G - £2,621.41

H - £3,279.55

Published: February 20th 2020