Tomorrow – Wednesday 17th February 2016 – Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will set its budget for the financial year 2016/17.
With the council’s cash budget having fallen by some £15m over the past six years, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Leader, Cllr Angus Campbell, has described this budget as “the most difficult [he has] been involved in.”
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has indicated that the council tax freeze will continue because of the £2.2m financial penalties that would otherwise be incurred.
The settlement from the Scottish Government is a 3.5% reduction for local government as a whole, but the effect of the distribution formula is a reduction of 4.5% for the Comhairle. The real terms decrease in revenue allocations from 2015 to 2017 for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is 5.9% – the second highest decrease in Scotland.
The budget setting follows extensive community consultation across the islands with over 200 people attending consultation meetings, more than 500 responses to an online survey and over 760 people viewing the budget discussion on Facebook.
Cllr Campbell said: “The budget recommendations coming before the Comhairle have been arrived at in a collaborative fashion by members and communities working together. It is the single biggest process of participative budgeting in the Western Isles and I would like to thank everyone who has taken part.
“However, at a time of financial austerity it is only possible to set a budget within the finances we have been allocated because of the groundwork that we have put in over recent years. The reality is that when obliged to make savings on such a scale, we will not be able to meet everyone’s wishes. However, we have listened carefully to our communities and their priorities – I believe that this has been reflected in the difficult process of setting the Comhairle’s budget”.