woodhill_house  Priorities identified by Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors last November have been included in their Council’s 2017/18 revenue budget passed yesterday (Thursday 9 February).
The 2017/18 revenue budget comes into effect at the start of the new financial year in April.
“The DIGG is very pleased to have secured additional funding for some key priorities,” said Cllr Martin Ford.

In Aberdeenshire Council’s revenue budget process (itself first suggested by the DIGG), at the November full council meeting the various councillor groups in the Council put forward draft budget proposals for the following year’s revenue budget. Last November, the DIGG identified active travel (cycling and walking), youth work and traffic calming as priorities for Council investment in the 2017/18 revenue budget. The DIGG also suggested additional investment in renewable energy (exclusively or mainly solar PV on Council properties) to reduce the Council’s greenhouse gas emissions while generating a small net income of £10,000 p.a. (ie. the surplus after meeting financing costs). And the DIGG argued the Council should set £200,000 aside for capacity building in the third sector and communities in preparation for the Council removing or transferring service provision (since, overall, Council budget cuts were unavoidable).

All five of these DIGG proposals were included in the Aberdeenshire Partnership administration’s budget passed yesterday with DIGG support. Additional funding of £150,000 has been allocated for active travel in 2017/18. A new budget line has been created for ‘youth work’ (with £100,000 allocated) and a new budget line for ‘traffic calming and speeding reduction’ (£150,000 allocated). The new budget provision for capacity building in communities – £200,000 – is as put forward by the DIGG in the DIGG draft budget proposals last November. An additional income of £10,000 is shown in the 2017/18 revenue budget against ‘renewable energy’, to be secured by further investment in solar panels on Council buildings as the DIGG proposed.
“The money for youth work, traffic calming and speeding reduction as well as cycling and walking should benefit residents all over Aberdeenshire,” said Cllr Paul Johnston.

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  • Rebecca

    Thank you to you and Martin Ford for pressing strongly on these issues and congratulations on making yourselves heard. Can I ask what was the previous year funding of third sector and communities? They are such vital services and I feel so easily earmarked by local authorities for cuts.

    • Admin

      Hi Rebecca, thanks for your post. Aberdeenshire Council has gradually reduced its expenditure on external contracts for services, many of which will have been awarded to third sector charities and operators. That sadly has not been reversed.

      The council on the other hand, provides grants and assistance in kind to many third sector voluntary groups. It also assists a number of third sector social enterprises.

      The aggregated figures for all of the funding is not something that I have to hand and would need to ask officials if this is possible to get.

      What I can say is that I view existing a contracts for services separately from support for third sector Organisations. A contract being specifically for the delivery of a service. Support, being for the development of the third sector body itself.

      With respect to the former, my view is that we need efficient enterprising and robust social enterprises and third sector bodies that the council’s can rely upon to deliver first class services. We need good bodies to award contracts to that would be better than doing it ourselves.

      To get these, the council must support the latter. Development and support for growing third sector bodies and particularly social enterprises will mean the council will be more likely to award contracts rather than attempt less efficient and often less satisfactory in house arrangements.

      We will also have more empowered and enterprising communities creating better places to live as part of a sustainable environment.

      The money that I and Martin Ford have been pressing for are specifically funds to support external youth work which is not being covered by new arrangements for community learning and development. Along side this I was seeking money to help develop new social enterprises to take up issues that arise from community empowerment, the need for new health and social care bodies and for finding new ways of delivering services to communities where the council is retreating due to funding pressures.

      In conclusion, we are still not in a good place. Overall the council still needs to do better and we will continue to press them to do that.

      Hope that helps.

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