Committee examines measures in place to manage revenue budget shortfall and thanks staff for their Covid-19 response

At today’s Communities and Place Committee councillors had the opportunity to review the arrangements being put in place by the service to manage a forecasted budget gap of £4.84m.

The deficit is largely due to Covid impacts of lost income and in a report presented to members it was flagged up that the position may change depending on progress made with income recovery, on-going expenditure controls and any additional Government funding that may be available.

Almost every area of the Communities and Place service relies on income with £52.285m required to pay for on-going service running costs.

Looking ahead to quarter 2 officers have highlighted that they expect additional pressure to be put on the budget due to increased waste costs incurred from supporting tourism, a higher number of visitors staycationing this year and clearing up after incidents of irresponsible camping.

The report also stresses that additional recovery costs are still being identified and include redesigning humanitarian assistance and costs arising from the Test and Protect programme although some additional grant funding can be claimed for these activities from the Scottish Government.

The current mitigation measures in place to address the predicted deficit include:

  • Reducing expenditure across all possible areas
  • Recruitment controls
  • Reviewing budget savings potential
  • Income recovery
  • Identifying new income generating proposals and processes
  • Reviewing procurement processes and contracts
  • Claiming all available and relevant Government grants and bidding for funding support

Chair Councillor Allan Henderson said: “There is no doubt that Covid 19 has had a serious impact.  As well as the costs associated with dealing with the Council’s response there has been a significant disruption to our income streams. Money coming in from our commercial waste collections, environmental health services, public conveniences, grounds maintenance and registrar services have all been adversely affected. Our staff have been immersed on the service covid response and have not been able to plan for and deliver all of the service savings previously agreed.”

“The predicted service budget shortfall of £4.84 million is based on the best available information we have at the moment but work is on-going to monitor and profile all income and expenditure so we can fully understand the pressure on the budget and see how measures that are being put in place are working.

“As well as having expenditure and recruitment controls in place, work is going on to adjust services to meet budget savings and look at new income and procurement opportunities. We will also hopefully be able to draw down any Government grant support and new recovery costs. I am particularly pleased to see that work on monthly profiling of income will take place as this will allow more scrutiny and a better understanding of the full picture as we move forward into the Covid-19 recovery phase.”

A separate paper presented to members during the Committee focussed on the work by service staff to support the Council’s Covid-19 response. This included taking the lead in running helplines, humanitarian assistance, working with community bodies,  providing advice and support to business on complying with coronavirus regulations, additional deaths planning and the Test and Protect programme.

With lockdown preventing some services from continuing, many staff volunteered for deployment onto other tasks. As guidance on self-isolation was amended, the service was the first to bring staff back into the work place safely from the beginning of June.

Staff have given feed-back about the positive and challenging aspects of their involvement in the Covid response and the service will use this information and the experience gained since March to help plan service delivery and development and undertake more workforce planning.

Speaking on behalf of all members of the committee Councillor Allan Henderson took the opportunity to thank staff.  He said: “The response from our staff to the challenges of Covid-19 have been inspiring and we want to pay tribute to all the excellent work that has been undertaken to keep services such as the waste collections running and to deliver the humanitarian assistance needed to help people through this difficult time.

“The Service has had to adapt to unique circumstances and staff have been flexible, volunteering to take on new tasks and come up with creative solutions. This “can do” attitude shines through and we sincerely thank everyone for their commitment, support and outstanding efforts that have played a very positive role in supporting our communities.”


19 Aug 2020