Investment in services and no cuts in Fife’s Budget

Fife Council Leader, David RossFife Council met on Thursday to set a balanced budget that protects services and freezes council tax for the coming year.

Council Leader David Ross said, “I’m pleased we’ve been able to protect our services from cuts this year and make some much-needed investments.  This has only been possible because we will benefit from additional one-off income next year and because of the efforts of our finance and service staff in the careful management of their budgets.”

Investment in services will include an additional £3.5m to maintain Fife's roads, £5m to replace the Council’s ageing vehicle fleet including bin lorries, and extra cash for street cleaning and grounds maintenance.

The council has also agreed that it will hold council tax at its current level and is calling on the Scottish Government to release £9.3 million that was being held back in lieu of an agreement to a council tax freeze.

Cllr Ross said “I’m pleased that one off investments have been possible this year, but the financial picture over future years continues to be challenging.  Whilst a council tax freeze is good news for Fife’s council tax payers, it will put pressure on how we fund our services in coming years.”

"We have a duty to set a balanced budget and this has been possible this year without the need for cuts to services, but the Council faces a budget gap of £24m rising to £42m in future years and the significant financial challenges we face can’t be underestimated.

"Council tax is the main source of funding within the council's own control and it's therefore disappointing that the Scottish Government is trying to impose a council tax freeze on Scottish local authorities without discussion or consultation. “

The council plans to review capital spending over the coming year to consider issues including the rising costs of dealing with flooding events, new secondary schools in Glenrothes and Kirkcaldy and the council's affordable housing programme.

Added Cllr Ross: "There are significant demands on our capital spend in the months and years ahead in the face of reduced funding allocations for vital flood defences, education and new build housing.

"But we remain ambitious for Fife and we are preparing to invest in our young people by providing all pupils with tablets or personal learning devices so that we can raise attainment and give them the digital skills they need for the modern world and that employers demand.

“We have to balance this against investments we want to make in our roads, schools, housing and community facilities."

Investments agreed by councillors today include:

  • £500,000 to help fund more educational psychologists in schools
  • £880,000 to support commercial bus routes across Fife
  • £610,000 to increase the number of street cleaning and grounds maintenance staff and invest in new pavement sweeping machines
  • £2.5 million to support those struggling through the cost of living crisis
  • £2.1 million in health and social care
  • £3.5 million to help repair Fife's roads
  • £540,000 on flood alleviation schemes
  • £500,000 to fund a grant scheme for householders to put flood prevention measures in place
  • £5 million to help replace some of the council's vehicles
  • £20,000 to allow pedestrian access to Dalgety Bay and St Andrews recycling centres
  • £200,000 to investigate the possibility of developing a municipal bus service in Fife
  • £250,000 to support work in Craigtoun Park to restore the Dutch village
  • £100,000 to support the work of Fife Coast and Countryside Trust

Concluded Cllr Ross: "Our capital plan will be reviewed over the course of the year and we will continue to monitor our financial situation very closely."

"It's good news that we are continuing to invest in Fife's communities and provide support where it's needed most.  However our financial challenges are not going away and as our resources are under huge pressure, demands for our services continue to increase.”