‘No cuts’ budget approved by West Dunbartonshire Council
West Dunbartonshire Council has approved a budget without any cuts for the second year running.
As part of the 2020/21 council budget, every primary school pupil in West Dunbartonshire will be offered free school meals. The major expansion, which will save local families hundreds of pounds per year, will be phased in at schools across the area over the next two years. The £950,000 investment in 2020/21 will be partially funded by a rise in Council Tax of 4.84%.
The budget will also see £8 million invested in road and pavement improvements, £1.85m to support residents into employment and over £250,000 set aside to fund additional learning assistants in schools.
The commitments follow the budget survey in autumn 2019 which showed that education and roads were among residents’ top priorities for council spending.
The financial plan protects frontline council services as much as possible, and commits additional funding to support initiatives assisting some of the poorest and most vulnerable residents in West Dunbartonshire.
In addition, over £70m will be invested in the Health and Social Care Partnership to protect and enhance Home Care and Social Work.
The Independent Resource Centre will receive £249,000, including a £144,000 contingency fund to maintain its service over the next two years; £50,000 will go to community drug project Alternatives to support the Safe as Houses initiative and £60,000 has been set aside for the Challenging and Responding to Abuse (CARA) project to support those affected by abuse.
A new £382,000 NetZero Carbon Fund has been created to fund initiatives that will improve the environment in West Dunbartonshire by generating clean energy or reducing energy consumption/CO2 emissions. In addition, a new Biodiversity post will be introduced for the area to enhance the environment in West Dunbartonshire.
Councillor Ian Dickson, convener of corporate services, said: “For the second year, we have adopted a no cuts budget in West Dunbartonshire, investing in key areas and supporting our residents without detriment to our frontline services.
“Our residents told us through the budget survey that they wanted education to be prioritised and we have responded to that with a commitment to provide free school meals in all of our primary schools, an increase in funding for extra learning assistants, and a pledge to continue to invest in our schools.
“We want a fairer future for all, especially our most vulnerable, and that’s why we’ve increased investment in the HSCP and also dedicated new funding to support initiatives in our community which assist those in recovery, experiencing financial difficulties or who have endured abuse.
”As a council, we are working hard to make West Dunbartonshire an even better place to live, work and visit and this budget further supports that.”
Council leader Jonathan McColl added: “Significant progress has been made over the last year to enhance our communities and support our residents. We have completed the infrastructure for a new district heating network which will reduce fuel poverty in our area, we’ve started work on a new education campus, we’re nearing completion of a second new care home and we’ve improved key road routes.
“In the year ahead, we will progress further still, supporting citizens of all ages with increased early years provision, investment to raise attainment and further improve our school estate, support for initiatives offering learning and training, funding to create a greener West Dunbartonshire assistance for projects to help our most vulnerable and additional funding for our Health and Social Care Partnership.
“To balance the budget the council will progress with a number of sensible efficiencies such as being more efficient in how we deliver services to reflect how we meet the needs of the public. The council will also be disposing of surplus land and buildings to generate funds to support ongoing investment.”