Outstanding financial management by Angus Council has delivered a budget surplus of £13m for financial year 2017-18 against a budgeted deficit of £2m, despite a challenging winter and rising demand for some services.
Management actions have made a positive contribution, which have allowed the Council to balance its budget, pay back its General Fund Reserve by some £1.1m and reduce expensive debt for 2017/18. This has been achieved whilst maintaining vital services for the citizens of Angus.
The savings are the result of:
- Strict management of staff costs and vacancies, in preparation for the staff reductions required through the Council’s Change Programme in 2018/19. This has reduced the number of senior managers in the Council by some 20 per cent, meaning that Angus Council now has one of the leanest staffing structures of any Scottish Council
- Driving internal efficiencies such as introducing digital ‘self-serve’ channels for citizens which offer us all access to many services 24/7
- Capital receipts as a result of commercial negotiations in land sales and waste disposal
- Reduction in loan charges including paying off some existing debts
- The generation of additional income
- Increasing council tax income, both as result of a growth in housing and strong levels of collection including payment of debts outstanding from previous year
Despite the good results for 2017-18 (as stated in Angus Council report no 190/18) this additional financial resource is largely temporary and one-off in nature. This means that Angus Council is still facing the hardest ever financial challenges as a further £14.6m and £11.3m of permanent savings must be found for years 18/19 and 19/20 respectively.
Council tax contributes 20 per cent (circa £50m) of the necessary annual revenue for the council to meet its obligations and the increase in council tax in 2017/18 and 2018/19 by three per cent was the only prudent course of action as Scottish Government funding is likely to continue to fall, relative to the obligations that the council is required to undertake.
Finance Convenor Cllr Macmillan Douglas said, “We took the decision to put improved efficiently as our top council priority because the achievement of all our other ambitions is dependent upon this.
“Our officers have responded professionally to these pressures. In the past year, Angus Council has made significant strides in managing its finances but also in the delivery of successful outcomes. Educational attainment is improving and our schools estate is receiving unprecedented levels of investment through our Schools for the Future programme that will continue to enhance the prospects of our young people.
“We have more new houses under construction than in the past decade and we are no longer putting the non-recyclable waste collected from Angus citizens and businesses into landfill , having contracted to incinerate it to generate electricity. This is the first time that we have been able to avoid putting non-recyclable waste to landfill. These successes have been achieved through a combination of commercial and prudent actions by the council which reflect a long term approach to financial management.”