Thursday, February 19, 2009


Budget Update

Well, unsurprisingly the local Lib-Dem/SNP budget was voted through last Thursday in the Council Chambers.

There is a huge amount of detail in the confirmed budget - please don't hesitate to contact me directly if you'd like any specific information - but meantime here's some quick analysis of the main differences and some of the problems that will quickly become apparent with what the Lib-Dems and SNP have just passed:

- Both Labour (and Tories interestingly) put the 1.5% cut in School Budgets BACK INTO this year's figures ... some £2.7million would have been returned to schools. The Lib/Nats didn't, and instead allocated a paltry £250K to all of the city's schools - that's not very much for each school :-(

- In terms of allocation of additional funding to front line services ... here's the running order: Labour £28.1million; Tories £26.9million; Lib/Nats £25.6million. So, again, even the Tories appear to care more for front-line services than the current Administration.

- Very worrying increases in the 'school let' figures - which we rejected in our proposals - with the Lib/Nats raising charges for these rentals very, very significantly. For example, to hire a general games hall goes up from £21.25 to £27.63 - that's a shocking 30% (yes, 30%) increase. In total, this area of income is going up by some £319,000 and I confidently predict real pain for many over this, and I doubt if any of the 29 Lib/Nats even realised they approved it in their budget.

- Another £350,000 taken OUT OF Community Education - that's on top of the £850,000 last year - both cuts we rejected. Again, this will lead to serious service reductions in a whole host of areas and I doubt very much if those in charge politically, realise the full impact of what they've just agreed. I reckon the 'Scouts' and 'Lothian Association of Youth Clubs' can kiss goodbye to their seconded-posts, for example?

- No new monies for 'supported bus services' - this WILL come back to haunt them I'm sure - whilst we allocated an extra £300,000 to this area.

- No general uplift for voluntary organisations whatsoever - we did have 'inflation provision' for these organisations in our budget.

- No additional monies (once again, despite the avowed emphasis on 'doing things locally') for Neighbourhood Partnerships - we had put in an extra £600,000 for this.

- No extra monies for additional local Police Officers - the Libs had consistently failed to back this initiative when they were in Opposition and continue to show no real support - we had an extra £320,000 for this in our budget, which would have paid for 10 new Police Officers.

Overall, pretty poor emphasis on 'front-line service delivery', and it's certain that some very serious problems will arise out of what's just been approved.

In short, another weak budget for the city of Edinburgh's residents.

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