Perth & Kinross Council has agreed a budget for 2014/15 and a provisional budget for 2015/16, whilst freezing council tax for the eighth consecutive year.
With an emphasis on protecting the key frontline services that residents most rely on, the budget reveals the support the Council provides to people throughout their lives. In total, £4.7 million has been put towards protecting services.
The Council continues to prioritise jobs, with additional funding of £1,208,000 over the next two years for youth employment programmes, including Modern Apprenticeships; a job experience programme for graduates; recruitment grants to small and medium enterprises to employ 18-24 year olds; and a further £100,000 to employ an additional squad to maintain open public green spaces.
The focus on regeneration continues, too, with £300,000 additional funding to enhance tourism and attract businesses to the area and £246,000 towards bringing empty properties back into use. To further attract and retain businesses in rural areas, £200,000 has been granted in 2015/16 to provide a community fund to improve rural broadband access.
The Council is providing additional funding to support families, with almost £1,549,000 granted to projects to give children the best start in life. Creche facilities including Playstart will continue and families with young children will see school crossing patrols and free swimming lessons and fruit for primary school children protected.
Secondary school children will also benefit, with the continuation of funding for education support workers and community link workers; and the continuation of funding for Skills for Work and Curriculum for Excellence college courses.
Commitments to maintain recycling centres, public conveniences and the winter roads budget will benefit residents across the whole of Perth and Kinross, as will the funding granted to subsidise the essential public transport which so many rely on. Further funding for roads maintenance means that, in total, the Council will have invested £2,400,000 over three years in Perth and Kinross’s roads.
Older residents, and their families and carers, will see residential placements being maintained at the current level. £212,000 extra will be invested in Homecare services, which enable more people to live independently at home, while £45,000 over two years will expand the befriending scheme to provide regular social contact for older people.
People focussed budget
Council Leader, Councillor Ian Miller said, “This is a budget which is focussed on people, and on the places where we live. Our commitment is to increase investment in the physical infrastructure of our area. Supporting people in to work and generating jobs remains our priority. We have had considerable success with youth employment schemes and this budget continues to invest in this vital work, making jobs, training and advice available to even more residents across Perth and Kinross.
“I’m also delighted that we are able to fund additional investment in services that will help people to reach their potential and, in the longer term, reduce the need for public sector support. I understand that services like these make a real difference to people’s lives.”
The Council constantly seeks to be more efficient and we predict that we will have saved £5.6 million by the end of 2013/14. However, to invest in growth and maintain services, some charges for Council services will go up. The costs of school meals; hiring facilities and equipment will rise. Charges for planning applications and commercial waste disposal will also rise and the hours when some buildings are available for public use will reduce, though they will still be open at popular times.
Councillor Miller added, “All councils are seeking ways to save money, so that it can be spent where it is most needed. It is difficult decisions like these that allow us to invest in protecting front line services, jobs, the economy, supporting business growth and increasing investment in children and family services . This consistent approach has, over the years, seen significant sums of money being spent on these priority issues. This has supported people back into work, created opportunities for young people, ensured that Perth and Kinross has been open for business, and maintained the Council’s reputation for high performing service delivery.
“I would like to thank all of the staff in Perth & Kinross Council for their continuing commitment to delivering valued services in the community.”
Courtesy of PKC