Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Labour budget to reverse Lib-Dem/SNP cuts

Promised yesterday to put the full details of our budget up on the blog - so, just before the meeting starts at 10am, here goes (further analysis of the actual meeting will follow later this evening!):


Reversing Lib Dem/SNP education cuts and investing in services for the vulnerable are set to be the focus of the Labour budget presented to the City of Edinburgh Council today

Labour will also ensure that all non-essential roadworks are re-phased for the duration of the current tram works; pavement repairs will be prioritised, and some £8million worth of savings will be used to deliver 2 new 'Care Homes' for the city. And all currently 'supported bus services' across Edinburgh will be protected, alongside significant new investment in bus priority measures.

In addition, vital new support will be provided for 'Economic Development' initiatives to ensure that the city is able to respond pro-actively to the current economic conditions.

Labour Leader Andrew Burns said:

“The Labour budget focuses on education and our services for vulnerable people, two areas which have been badly hit by Lib-Dem/SNP cuts.

“Under Labour 34 city schools were built and refurbished in Edinburgh. We want to put education first once again. That’s why our budget will propose providing more money to headteachers, investing in our school buildings and additional borrowing to take forward the badly needed Wave 3 schools.”

“We also propose to invest an additional £2million revenue funding in home care and respite care services, and re-phase roads funding in order to provide two new care homes. A package which will make a real difference for hundreds of vulnerable people across the city.

“Labour are also determined to look innovatively at how we respond locally to the current economic difficulties. This will include providing more apprenticeships, and working with voluntary and government partners. We’ll also look to invest in affordable housing, by investing £5million in an 'Affordable Housing Fund', helping the economy and providing much needed social housing.”

Labour’s proposals for education seek to make education once again a top priority, and build on the success of the Labour building programme that saw 34 new schools developed in the city.

Labour Deputy Leader and Education Spokesperson Cllr Ricky Henderson added:

“The Edinburgh Labour budget will show that reinstatement of the 1.5% cut to devolved school budgets is not only desirable, but it is achievable. Schools have suffered dramatically over the last year dealing with the impact of the Lib Dem/SNP cuts, we want to reverse the damage caused by the Lib Dem/SNP administration.”


Labour will put forward a proposed programme (focusing on six priorities) which will include:

(a) Schools

Increased Devolved School Management (DSM) provision of £2.7m to reverse the budget cut implemented by the Administration in 2008/09; providing new resources as follows:

- £16,000 average increase to each Primary School
- £51,500 average increase to each Secondary School

The creation of a ‘£2million revenue’ schools "Energy and Efficiency Fund" - a bidding fund which will allow schools to keep any subsequent revenue savings.

The establishment a ‘£1.2million capital’ school ‘Refurbishment and Upgrade Fund’, with priority being given to school toilet improvements.

To provide funding to undertake the essential works at Wave3 schools.

The creation of a new (year 1) £12million ‘capital fund’ (which will be in addition to any remaining balance from the existing Wave3 programme) and will allow the design, planning and development stages to commence for James Gillespie’s High School with further funds being prioritised in future years to enable development of the remaining Wave3 Schools.

Charges for school lets are to be frozen, with no annual increase.

Provision has been provided to enable work to progress as scheduled at Prospect Bank Primary School, Royal Mile Primary School, Duncan Place Community Centre and Early Years Centre at Royston / Wardieburn.

And no savings from further school closures have been assumed.

(b) Economic Development

Provision of £1.3million for ‘Economic Development’ to take forward various initiatives to ensure that the city is able to respond pro-actively to the current economic conditions.

The Council will thus take a pro-active approach to leading the Edinburgh economy through the difficulties of the recession. It will take advantage of the national government’s rapid response package with measures such as:

- offering more council apprenticeships to support the increase in apprenticeship opportunities already on offer by the government.
- sharing risk by introducing a deferred payment scheme for developers willing to purchase council land taking repayments as the development raises revenue.
- working with the ‘JobCentres network’ to help every person looking for work, for longer than six months, with advice guidance and job placements and voluntary work opportunities
- creating a ‘Beautiful Edinburgh’ fund to pay for regeneration projects. This fund will make better use of existing and new funds to promote public realm small scale capital projects, lighting and green environmental initiatives.

Additional funding of £5million towards the establishment of an "Affordable Housing Fund’ for the city.

(c) Protecting the Vulnerable

The Labour Group recognises that the demand for services for the elderly and the most vulnerable have risen steeply in recent years, mainly as a result of demographic change. Taking this in to account extra resources are being allocated in the 2009/10 budget for Health and Social Care Department service provision. We welcome the additional funding for Free Personal Care and congratulate the officers in Health and Social Care who put a strong case for this extra funding to the Scottish Government.

Additional funding of over £9.8m is provided to client groups across Health and Social Care including:

- Home Care £3.8m
- School Leavers with Learning Disabilities £1.2m
- Day Care £0.9m
- Blindcraft £0.4m
- Demographic changes £1.2

With an additional £2million towards:

- ‘Home Care’ - to reinstate savings made from reablement back into the budget to increase the number of clients and make changes in the guidance to ensure adequate time is spent with clients. This guidance should also take into account the need for time for food preparation to ensure fresh nutritious meals
- ‘Respite Care’ services
- and the development of accommodation services for ‘Young People with Disabilities’

Provision of £265,000 ‘inflation provision’ to assist the valuable work undertaken by the voluntary sector, equivalent to a 2% rise in grants provision.

Investment of £8m to enable the provision of 2 new ‘Care Homes’.

Investment of an additional revenue sum of £320,000 to go towards the provision of 10 new, local Police Officers.

(d) Transport

Provision of an extra £300,000 to protect and enhance all currently ‘supported bus services’ across Edinburgh.

Investment of ‘£1.5million capital’ in bus-priority measures and enforcement of such.

All non-essential ‘capital’ roadworks to be re-phased for the duration of the current tram works, prioritising pavement repairs to a ratio of 60%/40% - equalling £8 of capital expenditure in 2009-10 on pavements and £5million of capital expenditure on roads.

(e) Local Environment

Provision of an additional £0.6m, to provide £50,000 per annum, of new monies, to each of the local Neighbourhood Partnerships to encourage local people to help decide their own priorities for allocating resources in order to make streets and open spaces cleaner.

Provision of £0.5m to the World Heritage Trust to promote its work in the city.

(f) Culture and Leisure

Investment of £120,000 towards cultural education and outreach work, benefiting organisations such as the Scots Music Group, Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera.

To invest ‘£2million capital’ in parks, pitches, pavilions and play areas; including provision of: enhanced play park for Inverleith; development of Warriston Tennis Courts; development of Arboretum Playing Fields; upgrading Dalmeny Street Park and a new play facilities for Liberton Park and Burdiehouse Community Centre.

To invest £300,000 for an ‘all-weather’ pitch at Balerno High School.



Anonymous said...

How does taking a total of £7.7 million off reserves (which you can't do again next year) give real security to schools.

Andrew said...


Thanks for taking the time to comment - if I'm to respond constructively, you'll need to identify how you arrive at that figure??

Happy to do it via the blog, or you could e-mail me directly (address as in the right-hand side-bar) and I can then send you all the supporting EXCEL spreadhseets as part of my answer.

Anyhow, not to duck the question, yes we've used some "earmarked" reserves (these are not the same as the 'unallocated general reserves' ... even so, I don't recognise your figure?) - these are monies that can be used (yes, it's a political judgement) for one-off expenditure ... such as bus priority measures ... and I'm not at all sure why you think the're being allocated to schools?

Would be more than happy to discuss further if you e-mail me ... and thanks again fro taking the time to comment.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous returns.

If you wish to highlight that you are "Reversing Lib Dem/SNP education cuts" and at the same time using reserves of any flavour you need to explain whether you can continue to spend at the same level next year. If you can't do that then surely you are doing what the last Labour administration has been proved to do. That is spending the reserves to make the revenue budget look good. Nice politics just not very transparent.

Andrew said...


Many thanks for the further comment.

Most of the "earmarked reserves" we allocated (these are monies not actually being used currently) were for one-off expenditures, such as on bus-priority measures etc.

I'm still not sure why you think they were being allocated to schools??

... and I don't accept your historical premise - there was over £50million left in earmarked reserves in April 2007, and yes 'unallocated reserves' were low - I accept that - but there was a good reason; have a look here:

Anyhow, thanks again for taking the time to cooment ...