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Perth & Kinross Council has agreed a 3.9% Council Tax increase for 2023/24, equivalent to less than a pound a week more for a Band D property.
Councillor Grant Laing, Leader of the Council, said: “At a challenging time, when budgets are stretched and many of our residents are feeling the strain, I am proud that we have today been able to agree a budget which strikes a balance between focusing on the people most in need, helping our local communities, and investing for the future.
“From the beginning of this term we have put tackling poverty and the impact of the cost-of-living crisis at the top of our agenda. Today we have reaffirmed that commitment with over £1.5m1 of investment in projects to support local residents most in need, including £600,000 to fund projects aimed at helping our communities deal with the cost of living crisis.
“This budget supports our underlying priority to work in partnership with communities, recognising the value of local knowledge and what residents can contribute to the place where they live. In this budget we’ve included £90,000 of investment in work to discourage and take action against the minority of people who fly-tip, litter or don’t pick up after their dogs which then negatively affects how the vast majority of residents feel about their area.
“We’ve also recognised the value of the local voluntary organisations who support people and communities in need by including a 7.5% increase for 2023/24 in the funding we provide to them, to help with the additional costs they are facing. Plus, an additional £100,000 specifically to support mental health self-help groups, who are in so much demand during this difficult time, to provide out of hours support for people experiencing mental health crisis.
“While the Council is facing difficult financial decisions it is also important to be aware of the impact of the choices we make. Retaining our city and town centre management initiatives helps support our small, independent businesses and the economies of our town centres.
“Likewise, we have today reinstated most of the budget for events, both Council-run and Council-supported, which help bring vibrancy and attract both residents and visitors into our city and town centres. We are instead shifting the balance of how these are funded by adding a £100,000 income target to prioritise seeking sponsorship. This will offset the burden on the public purse while still retaining the most popular of the events, which will be the most attractive ones to prospective sponsors.
Councillor Laing added: “This budget invests in our children and families, it invests in our economic wellbeing, it invests in our communities, it invests in climate change and in our infrastructure. It also minimises the financial impact on all our households with a Council Tax rise significantly below inflation.
“It is a budget designed to ensure that our residents and our communities can remain confident in all that our Council stands for. It is a budget which focuses on protecting people and protecting our vital assets.”
Councillors have also agreed to invest £100,000 to provide further support to families and children in poverty, more grit bin locations, investment in street cleaning, dog fouling, anti-social fly-tipping, and other avenues of funding.
Poverty and cost of living investment includes:
- £75,000 Think Yes – Child Poverty Fund to enable one-off payments to buy services, goods or to access community or therapeutic activities to resolve a problem for a children or family affected by poverty, where there is no other existing funding route
- £120,000 Child Poverty Locality Small Grants Fund – flexible funding for local child poverty action
- £20,000 School Clothing Grants – additional resource to assist with the provision of school clothing for qualifying families
- £350,000 Financial Inclusion – to assist tenants of private landlords who are at risk of losing their tenancy due to soaring household costs.
- £600,000 Local Community Funding – to make funding available via Local Action Partnership and the Community Investment Fund for community projects to manage the cost of living crisis
- £300,000 Anti-Poverty Taskforce and initiatives – to support partnership work to tackle poverty
- £140,000 in both 2023/24 and 2024/25 to provide intensive housing support
- £80,000 to create a think yes fund to assist residents in the private housing sector
Pete Wishart MP, John Swinney MSP and Jim Fairlie MSP have welcomed the passing of the SNP’s Perth and Kinross Council budget. Their comments come after councillors met today (01 March) to set the 2023/24 budget, which has been widely regarded as the tightest ever. The budget passed 24-14. All SNP councillors supported the budget, which was backed by both the Liberal Democrats and Independent group. It was opposed by the Conservatives, while Labour councillors abstained.
Pete Wishart MP said: “Today has been an extraordinary success for the SNP Group at Perth and Kinross Council. In the most challenging of circumstances, they have successfully delivered a budget that protects vital public services without burdening households with a huge council tax rise. This has truly set the standard for how local government should be done.
“In fact, Perth and Kinross Council is on track to deliver the lowest council tax rise in all of Scotland. To deliver this in spite of the cocktail of financial pressures that have arisen over the past few years – namely, Brexit, the pandemic ,the war in Ukraine and the spectacular fiscal mismanagement of the UK Government – is a testament to the proficiency of our SNP group.
“I want to particularly welcome the additional £2m for improvements to local roads. This funding was secured whilst rejecting numerous proposed cuts, including to the winter maintenance budget, greenspaces, street cleaning and public transport.”
John Swinney MSP said: “This is a budget that has put the needs of the people of Perth and Kinross first.
“I am particularly pleased that over £280k will be invested in education support for our young people, including those who have been most acutely affected by school strikes. I wrote to Perth and Kinross Council to request support of this nature, and I am sure that the SNP administration’s decision to bring this forward will be welcomed by pupils and parents alike.
“I also note the considerable investment of over £800k to tackle poverty within the region. The cost-of-living crisis continues to have a significant impact on the finances of many households across Perth and Kinross and there are many families – particularly those with children – who are struggling to make ends meet. To that end, the creation of a Child Poverty Fund, a Small Grants Fund and further funding for warm spaces will play a significant role in alleviating the pressure that many households are feeling.”
Jim Fairlie MSP said: “ I welcome the passing of the SNP group budget at Perth and Kinross Council and the significant investment that it represents in our area at a time of significant pressures on public spending.
“I particularly welcome the investment in rural bus services, such as the 55 and 202 in Glenfarg and West Kinross in my constituency. I also welcome the decision to invest in EV charging points in rural areas, as these can often be much needed and less attractive to commercial operators.”