Argyll and Bute announces Council Tax freeze in 2021/22 budget
Argyll and Bute Council has set a budget that freezes Council Tax in 2021/22 and invests millions in helping local people, businesses and the area as a whole to move on from the impact of COVID-19.
The council has announced it will invest £6.8 million into Argyll and Bute’s economy and infrastructure.
The council will provide £830,000 to deliver benefits from staycation, camping and campervan tourism. This will include for example waste disposal facilities and wardens to promote responsible camping.
To keeping Argyll and Bute connected it will invest £3,113,000 to improve the area’s network of roads, footpaths and pavements. This brings the overall Roads Reconstruction Budget to £10m for 2021/22, and investment in green transport and travel to £900,000
A further £1,702,000 has been allocated to set up a Recovery and Renewal Fund for recovery initiatives and future COVID-19 financial pressures, to reduce the council’s carbon emissions and progress the rural growth deal.
The council has announced a further £1,042,000 to boost the mental health and wellbeing of young people, set up a Tackling Digital Exclusion Top Up Fund, increase welfare support, and encourage shopping local at Christmas.
A total of £96,700 will also be provided to develop Gaelic, culture, heritage and arts as drivers for economic recovery.
Councillor Robin Currie, council leader, said: “We are investing nearly £6.8m to help Argyll and Bute keep going and keep growing. This budget takes on the unprecedented day-to-day and longer term challenges of living through a worldwide pandemic.
“We are investing in help for young people struggling to cope with life under covid restrictions. We are increasing support for families and others struggling financially. Investment in our road network, and digital connectivity, will help keep people and businesses connected.
“We will grab every opportunity for Argyll and Bute’s economic recovery, so are investing in action to bring the benefits of staycation tourism to the area. And longer term, we are investing in creating a sustainable future through climate-friendly initiatives, and progressing the area’s rural growth deal to action.
“This budget is about taking Argyll and Bute through challenge to a successful, sustainable future.”
Councillor Gary Mulvaney, policy lead for financial services, thanked the public for their contribution to the budget planning process. He added: “We continue to dedicate the majority of our budget to supporting our young people and caring for our vulnerable residents, through our education services and the Health and Social Care Partnership. We know that this year many families’ budgets are especially stretched so have frozen council tax.
“Councils unfortunately though don’t have enough funding to do everything people want us to do so there are always difficult decisions to make. Thank you to everyone who got involved with the budget planning process this year. What you told us helped us reach the right decisions for Argyll and Bute.”
The council tax freeze keeps council tax for a dwelling in Band “D” at £1,367.73
Based on public feedback, the council rejected savings options totalling £135,000:
- R&I 02 – flower bed planting- £30,000
- R&I 13 – grass cutting service specification - £100,000
- R&I 14 – fuel and utility sales - £5,000
Another savings option had already been withdrawn from consideration following strong public feeling against it: the option of removing pupil support assistants from schools - £209,000
The council accepted all other policy savings options proposals totalling £557,500, and endorsed the management/operational savings proposals.