Updated proposals for delivering sustainable services to the citizens of Aberdeen over the next five years have been mapped out in a new report from Aberdeen City Council.
The ‘Priority Based Budgeting Final Draft Report, November 2011' contains spending options agreed by Aberdeen City Council's Corporate Management team, which will now go forward later this year for decisions by elected members.
The report will form the basis of engagement with city councillors, the people of Aberdeen, the city's business, voluntary and academic sectors, trades unions and with other public sector partner organisations - and will inform the ongoing delivery of the City Council's ‘Five Year Business Plan'.
The options contained in the report, and any amendments or new options, will be put forward in the form of the budget to the Finance and Resources Committee on 6 December and to the next Full Council meeting for decisions by elected members.
The report builds on the work carried out on the Five Year Business Plan last year and is the result of six months of detailed work by City Council officials to define services, establish costs, and draw up new budget options.
The options are laid out in four categories -
• Efficiency options, which do not change the nature of a service but focus on efficiency and effectiveness, though some may require changes to legislation;
• Transformation options, which change the nature of the service delivery;
• Stop/Reduce options, which would cut the level of service or result in a service no longer being delivered.
The £71.5million savings options approved by Council in February are detailed in the new report and have already been built into the budget for the next five years.
A total of £36million of potential additional savings have been identified which could be achieved by 2016/17 if chosen, but only £3.6million of savings need to be found to bridge the gap for 2012/13.
The nature of the proposed savings will result in changes to how services are delivered to the people of Aberdeen. Some of the options would require policy changes on the part of the City Council and/or detailed negotiation at a national level.
The Five Year Business Plan approach, which has been recognised by Audit Scotland as an exemplar, is a fundamentally new way of planning future spending and investment in the city and is based on Aberdeen City Council's six key priorities:
• provide for the needs of the most vulnerable people;
• help to ensure that all schoolchildren reach their potential;
• manage waste better and increase recycling;
• encourage new affordable housing;
• ensure a sustainable economic future for the city;
• ensure efficient and effective delivery of services by the Council and with its partners.
City Council Chief Executive Valerie Watts said:
"It's very important to emphasise that this is a draft report. This is us opening it up for engagement. A lot of the options in the report are about redesigning services and about making the council a place that's fit for the potential challenges we face. The important thing about this is that we are looking forward and we are planning for the future.
"There are a lot of services which might be affected and the Corporate Management Team has been quite sensitive about how we have gone through each of the budget lines to create the least impact out there in the communities, on the citizens of Aberdeen and on the employees of the council. These proposals are up for discussion, negotiation or change."
Director of Corporate Governance Stewart Carruth added:
"We've already delivered £15.5million of savings in year one and it's a credit to the staff involved that we have managed to do that and I am in no doubt that we will continue to deliver absolutely in terms of the Five Year Business Plan, because of the dedication and effort of the staff involved.
"We are only having to fill a deficit of £3.6million - that's a fantastic position to be in."