Despite facing more funding cuts from the SNP/Green Scottish Government, East Lothian Council’s Labour Administration has agreed a draft budget for 2022/23 to protect services, support communities and boost the economy as we enter the recovery period of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Council leaders across Scotland believe that the government’s draft budget, currently being considered by parliament, is the worst deal they have ever seen for local government and have agreed to not sit back and accept it. The Labour Administration will work on a cross-party basis to demand changes to the Scottish Government’s funding settlement, but has had to produce its own draft budget based on what the Government has outlined so far.

East Lothian Council is the second fastest growing authority in Scotland but faces having over £700,000 cut from its core funding, no provision for pay increases, rising inflation, the increase in NI contributions or the increased demand for services due to the pandemic.

This will add an additional £12m to the cost of providing the same services next year with no new funding from the SNP/Green Government. To protect services and balance the budget the Administration are using £7m from reserves and £4.2m from a 3% Council Tax increase. The budget also has another £1.1m savings from a review of services.

Labour Leader of the Council, Cllr Norman Hampshire, said:

“Councils have now faced year on year funding cuts from the Scottish Government for the best part of a decade, and this year’s draft budget is the worst yet.

“We’re facing a real terms cut in our core funding at a time when we have gone through a pandemic and local services are more in demand than ever before.

“Unfortunately, as it stands and despite maximum use of reserves, the settlement has given us no option but to increase the Council Tax by three per cent.

“However, Council Tax only accounts for around one quarter of our overall budget, so this does not plug the shortfall created by the cuts in government funding.

“The impact of the pandemic will affect our communities for years to come, so ensuring that high quality local services are available to help people will be more important than ever.

“That’s why we have had to take some difficult decisions so that we can continue to protect services, support communities and boost the economy as we begin the recovery from Covid.”

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