Thursday, February 08, 2007

Budget Day!

Budget-setting day for the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) ... further details on the main CEC website - just follow the 'Council News' links from the front page ... or go straight here.

Given it was my first budget in the relatively, new role of Executive Member for Children and Families; I did put together a brief summary for the internal Departmental Newsletter ... which follows below for those who may be interested (??):

"Thursday 8th February and the city-wide budget has just been approved for 2007/08 - for the Children and Families department I believe it has been a very good settlement indeed. I want to take this opportunity to touch on some of the highlights.

The main focus has been on securing a long-term uplift in the base budgets for the "Children's Services" that the department provides. And, to this end, some £6.25million has indeed been added into the base revenue budget to go towards:

- foster parents and support to fostering families (£1.9million)
- supporting children in care and their families (£2.4million)
- social work practice team support (£440K)
- children with a learning disability (£250K)

Along with a collection of other smaller sums, the overall total of £6.25million is a recurring uplift to the ongoing base revenue budget - I feel it will make a real difference to those staff who are facing significant pressures in the department; but more importantly it's going to make a very significant difference to many, many children and families who most need help from the local authority.

Within the longer-term capital budget, there has also been an additional allocation of just over £4million to concentrate on a variety of fabric renewal projects, principally in the school estate:

- a new Granton Waterfront primary (£1.2million)
- Craigmillar Schools funding (£1million)
- refurbishment of James Gillespie's High School (£1million)
- refurbishment works at St. Crispin's Special School (£250K)
- phase 2 of the works at the Royal Mile Nursery (£250K)
- refurbishment of the Duncan Place Resource Centre (£400K)

In addition to these longer-term projects, there is an immediate (2007/08) allocation of £2million capital being provided directly to schools specifically to support energy saving investments. This will translate, for example only, to around £30,000 per average secondary school and to around £10,000 per average primary school.

These are just the highlights, but I hope they give you a flavour of the main emphasis of the budget settlement.

As hopefully many of you know, since taking on this post in late August 2006, I've tried to visit as many Children and Families establishments as possible over the past 6-months. During those visits, I've listened hard to the many constructive comments from staff about the services the department delivers - and I sincerely hope you see a reflection of some of those discussions in the priorities delivered in this budget. It does all represent a very significant uplift in the base budgets, and I'm confident it puts the Children and Families department on a sound financial footing for the future."

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