Council reveals £11 million savings

ABERDEENSHIRE Council is poised to save £11 million, according to latest figures.

A monitoring report on the budget up until December of last year will go before the authority’s policy and resources committee today (Thursday).

Finance chiefs will report how services are responding to the long-term financial strategy, which takes into account growing pressures on budgets over the next five to ten years.

The report shows an underspend of nearly £11 million, which accounts for around 2% of the council’s budget, and says it reflects the positive way services are responding to the challenges ahead without having a matetrial impact on service delivery.

Underspends are being reported across a range of areas. Capital financing charges and interest payments will not be spent to the tune of £1.7 million.

Waste disposal is forecast to underspend by £1.1 million through factors including waste being transported by the council rather than by a contractor.

Internal transport would see £797,000 not being spent through savings in leasing costs and delays in the purchase of small vehciles and plant.

Economic development will underspend by £899,000, largely due to holding funds for specific projects on Business Gateway, the Regeneration Fund and Macduff Town Centre Improvement Zone, which will now be spent next year.

The report to councillors says: “Older People Residential Care will underspend by £903,000 due to the introduction of revised working patterns for staff and an increase in charges to clients.

In addition, delays in opening a new care home in Stonehaven have meant that staff costs are not required in the current financial year.

“The building repairs and maintenance budget is expected to overspend by almost £1million due to pressure of maintaining the council’s buildings.

“This has been recognised by councillors and additional funding agreed to support this work in future years.

“Cross-service savings of almost £1million are unlikely to be achieved during this financial year and work is on-going to find alternative savings through procurement activity.”

Provision is being made through the budget process to ensure the council maintains teacher numbers and manages changes to teachers’ terms and conditions and the teachers’ induction scheme.

In the report, the Head of Finance advises that the underspends are largely one-off, rather than recurring savings and that decisions taken throughout the budget-setting process reflect the approach to the longer-term planning the council has adopted where further cuts to services can be avoided, or at least minimised by the re-investment of current year’s savings.