The Lib Dem/SNP coalition announced that the passage of the Council's budget yesterday will see "a massive boost" of £26m investment in priority areas such as children and the most vulnerable, and reflects the Council's priorities to make Edinburgh "a safer, cleaner, greener and more sustainable city".
Council tax has remained frozen for 5 years, however the Scottish Government’s grant allocation for Edinburgh was significantly increased, reflecting Edinburgh's rising population.
The total revenue budget is £1,047m for 2012/13. Council Tax makes up £229m of this with £819 million coming from Government grants. The total capital budget (excluding trams and the housing revenue account) is £214.268m.
Council leader Jenny Dawe said the extra £26m funding is being allocated to services “residents have told us matter.”
Extra investment of £4.1m will help reduce the repairs backlog for schools by almost half. A further £250,000 will also help to fund additional schools books and other services.
Additional funding of £1.87m has been allocated to support increasing numbers of vulnerable children. There will also be an additional £2.8m for people with learning and physical disabilities and £2.1m for older people, over the next year.
Cllr Phil Wheeler, Convener of the Finance and Resources Committee, said:
“The extra funding in this year’s budget is strategically targeted with early intervention and service transformation in mind. An example of this is repairing school buildings which will save us money in the long run.
“Next year’s capital programme will change the lives of many tenants as we upgrade thousands of council homes with new kitchens and bathrooms, double glazing, rewiring as well as many other common repairs.“
Edinburgh debt load
Cllr Jenny Dawe, Council Leader, claimed good financial management had made this year's additional £26m expenditure possible.
"Against a backdrop of global recession and cuts in public spending this <budget> has only been possible due to the Administration’s prudent financial management bringing every department in or under budget in the last two years. At the same time we have saved money and built on our essential reserves."
Labour Leader, Councillor Andrew Burns painted a different picture:
"The City of Edinburgh Council now carries over £1.5billion of debt, an amount that has risen by a staggering 66% over the last 5-years."
He said that amounts to £3,000 for every person living in Edinburgh and that "more than £1 in every ten" is spent on servicing the Council debt.
He talked of a "slow-burning, financial crisis stalking the City Chambers."
Other parties were critical that the SNP/Lib Dem budget was not published ahead of yesterday's budget-setting meeting.
Like the Green party, Labour has called for improving the process for councillors to debate the budget.
Said Burns: "Every year, we get ourselves into the ludicrous situation of each Party Group not knowing what the other is proposing until we walk into the Council Chamber at 10am on the local Budget Day. And we're not talking a Westminster or Holyrood budget here, but the budget of a medium-sized city ... it just makes no sense to continue like this."
The Greens have called for a " transparent and inclusive budget process" with a two-week cooling off period to discuss the budget proposals.
Key budget provisions
Children and schools
- £4.1m to improve the fabric of the Children & Families estate
- £250k for school text books and other supplies
- £147k to support the increasing number of children in early years
Vulnerable children protection
- £1.87m to support increasing numbers of vulnerable children
- £1.63m for early years and early intervention services
Supporting Edinburgh's economic competitiveness
- £1m to help young people find positive destinations under the Edinburgh Guarantee
- £1m to support third party organisations to help people into work
Care for elderly and vulnerable
- £2.1m for the elderly
- £2.8m to adults with physical and learning disabilities
- £1.7m for the older peoples’ Change Fund
- £400k to provide improved support for carers and expanded respite services
- £500k to refurbish care homes
- £226k to help the elderly and vulnerable live more independent lives in their homes
- £190k to give the elderly and vulnerable more say over their care
- £350k for specialist equipment in care homes
- £54k to reduce the waiting time for bathing assessments
- £20k to support additional social activities in care homes
Edinburgh's Cultural, Sporting and Leisure Activities
- £50k for Edinburgh’s world-leading Christmas and Hogmanay festivals
- £890k for Edinburgh Leisure for targeted programmes for vulnerable children and adults and to keep Portobello Golf Course and Kirkliston Leisure Centre open
- £725k to improve pitches and pavilions
- £300k to align library open times with local need
- £14m for 1,500 new kitchens and bathrooms
- £1.6m to rewire 780 homes
- £1.5m for 400 homes to receive new energy efficient heating systems
- £700k for 300 homes to be fitted with double glazing
- £1.2m for 1,550 news doors to be fitted –
- £2.4m on a range of common repairs
- £2.4m to take 212 households out of poverty
- £4m for service improvements to increase recycling
- £500k for severe winter weather
- £2.5m to improve the Property Conservation Service
- £300k for public toilets
- £250k for a micro-hydro scheme to provide renewable, low carbon energy for Council facilities
- £250k for sustainable transport
- £85k to replace trees damaged in the recent storms
- £3m for road repairs including potholes
- £90k for Taxicard users who have a severe, permanent disability
- £70k to improve bus services including improving services in the Craigentinny area
- £100k to improve traffic management