Council agrees Medium Term Financial Strategy
Councillors have agreed the council's first Medium Term Financial Strategy.
A step change
The move is a major step change for the council aimed at strengthening financial sustainability and allowing it to plan and implement service delivery more effectively.
Give us stability
Council Leader Councillor Derek Milligan said: “A Medium Term Financial Strategy is a major step change and will give us the financial stability to be able to plan ahead and invest in Midlothian to make sure it really is a ‘great place to grow’.
More work to do
“That said, we’ve got a lot of further work to do to address the financial and service challenges over the next three years. There will continue to be difficult decisions in the coming months.
“We realise that some of the proposals put forward by officers were causing a lot of concerns among local people, such as the move to cut school transport arrangements and how music tuition is provided in our schools. We’ve listened and we will be coming back out to speak to local people.”
More than £7 million savings
At the full Council meeting on Tuesday, the Medium Term Financial Strategy approved by councillors sets out a range of changes to how services will be delivered. These are expected to save more than £7 million. The measures include reviewing the council’s senior management structure, reducing management costs to protect frontline services and generating income by, for example, pushing ahead with plans to turn Midlothian Snowsports Centre into an all-year-round leisure destination.
Further consultation with public
However, councillors agreed the recommendations made by the six member Business Transformation Steering Group that other changes proposed in the report would be subject to further public consultation.
Planning assumption of continued government cuts
Today's decision sets out how the council will bridge the projected funding gap of £4.6 million for 2020/21 and goes a significant way to addressing the projected funding gap of £18.8 million predicted by 2022/23. The projected funding gaps assume Scottish Government core funding to the council will be reduced by 2% each year. This is a planning assumption unanimously approved by the cross party Business Transformation Steering Group.
A further update on the Medium Term Financial Strategy, which focuses savings around four core themes - One Council, Preventative and Sustainable, Efficient and Modern and Innovative and Ambitious - will be brought before the full Council in October.
The amended recommendations approved today come after a public consultation - Working With You, For You, launched in April 2019.
A total of 115 people from voluntary organisations, community groups and parent and pupil councils came to five community engagement workshops.
The workshops were also attended by residents, council employees and local business representatives. Separate written submissions were also received from parent and pupil councils, schools, youth groups, equality groups, other local organisations and individuals.
At the consultations, people were asked how they would like Midlothian to be in 2040.
A sense of community is important
Those presents said a sense of community belonging and a balanced infrastructure with protected clean and green environments, were very important in a future Midlothian.
High on the list too were high quality education, vibrant town centres, technological solutions and reimagined older people’s services so that people can grow older safely in one community.
As part of the consultation, 614 responses to questions on the Medium Term Financial Strategy were also received from the Midlothian Citizens’ Panel.
Cllr Milligan said: “We are shaping our plans to take account of local people’s views whenever possible.
“While we’re committed to place individuals and communities at the heart of everything we do, we can't stress enough that we still have some really difficult choices ahead especially given we’re planning for a 2% cut in Scottish Government funding.
Difficult decisions ahead
"We will continue to invest in preventative approaches to reduce inequality. We’ll also automate and simplify our processes, making them more customer-focussed while looking at where we can work in partnership with other agencies and authorities.”