Budget for year ahead discussed by councillors

Budget for year ahead discussed by councillors
25 February 2020

Elected Members have recommended Orkney Islands Council’s budget for the next financial year.

The Policy and Resources Committee agreed that £85.8 million should be spent on running Council services in 2020 - 2021 and that savings of £755,000 should be found during the year ahead. This is in addition to a number of savings already agreed by the Council for 2020 - 2021, amounting to £267,600 in total.

Councillors also recommended:

  • A 1 per cent increase in funding for voluntary and other Third Sector organisations.
  • That Council Tax charges should rise by 4.84 per cent, which would increase the Band D annual charge from £1153 to £1208.
  • That existing fees and charges for Council services should increase by at least 3 per cent from 1 April. Exceptions would include charges that are set by legislation.

OIC’s funding allocation from the Scottish Government for the year ahead currently amounts to £77.5 million. This includes £5.5 million in funding for Orkney’s inter-island ferry service. But this is still to be finalised, with the Council seeking ferries funding of £7 million for 2020 - 2021.

Council Leader James Stockan said: “This has been a challenging budget setting process. Fair funding for our inter-island ferry service is still to be agreed and, once Government commitments and ring-fenced funding is taken into account, there is a real terms reduction of 1.1 per cent in the support the Government provides towards the running costs of core council services.

“Our annual funding from the Government, on a like for like basis and without ferry funding is, per head of population, £357 less than Shetland’s allocation and £673 below the allocation for the Western Isles. If Orkney was funded in the same way as the Western Isles, we would receive up to £14.9 million more each year to deliver council services.

“A great deal of thought and effort has been devoted to finding ways to lessen the impact on our community, our staff and the organisation itself. But we are having to recommend a range of cuts to services that are valued by people in Orkney. These are difficult decisions to make.”

The measures recommended by the Committee would result in a reduction of the Council’s workforce by the equivalent of 5.5 full time equivalent posts.

Of these, one FTE post is currently vacant. For the remaining posts, the intention would be to avoid compulsory redundancies if possible and look instead at alternatives such as redeployment, voluntary redundancy and retirement.

The Committee also recommended today that a contribution of up to £6.3 million should come from the Strategic Reserve Fund to support services during the year ahead.

The Committee’s recommendation that Council Tax bills in Orkney should increase by 4.84 per cent from April 1 is agreed, it would result in an overall Council Tax income of £9.8 million during 2020 – 2021.

The Committee’s recommendations go to a meeting of the Full Council on Tuesday 3 March for further consideration.

If approved, the following Council Tax charges would apply in Orkney for the year ahead:

Council Tax Band

Council Tax proposed for 2020 - 2021

A. £805.65.
B. £939.93.
C. £1074.20.
D. £1208.48.
E. £1587.81.
F. £1963.78.
G. £2366.61.
H. £2960.78.

Households with only one adult living in the property will continue to receive a discount of 25% on the charges detailed above.

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

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Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS