FIFE Council could have to find savings of almost £90 million by 2015 according to reports discussed by councillors.
The gloomy financial predictions are dependent on a number of factors including Scottish government funding but the council’s executive director of finance, Brian Livingston, explained that the figures are a reasonable basis for financial planning ahead.
He said: “These figures are our best estimate at this point in time but we have to keep planning ahead for these challenges. That’s why the budget process continues throughout the year and council services are continually looking at ways to improve efficiency.”
One example of the council’s efficiency drive has seen one central support services directorate save £3.2 million this year through re-structuring. 80 posts have gone as a result. However there were no compulsory redundancies throughout the process and other services across the council are carrying out similar reviews and restructuring to help plan ahead and make necessary savings.
So far, the council said careful management of the budget during 2010-11 produced a surplus of £22m resulting in balances at the year end sitting at almost £25 million and capital investment at a record high of just over £144 million.
Glenrothes councillor and leader of the council’s administration, Peter Grant, said: “We have to make sure we maintain our reserves and, with so many demands on budgets including future costs associated with further workforce change, it’s good news that we have £25 million in balances. I’m also delighted that, despite the tough times we’re living in, we have spent a record £144.171 million investing in the fabric of Fife. I’m proud of these achievements.”
Council investments over the past year include:
n Education - £26.9 million on projects including new Dunfermline High School and Carnegie Primary School
n Housing and Communities - £18.6 million on projects including the Carnegie Leisure Centre, Glenrothes Local Office and Methil Local Office. And £47.3 million was invested in housing including 57 new council houses in Rosyth and Ladybank.
Added Councillor Grant: “Investment has to keep happening as we go through this process of change in local government. We have to be realistic about the future of public services and the fact that we cannot continue to operate as we are.”