Extra cash forces Scottish Borders Council to postpone budget meeting

Scottish Borders Council's Newtown headquarters.
Scottish Borders Council's Newtown headquarters.

Scottish Borders Council has postponed setting its budget for the forthcoming financial year to allow it to take account of an extra £3.5m it has been allocated by Holyrood ministers.

Its draft budget discussions were due to take place today, February 8, but have now been put back until Tuesday, February 20.

That extra cash was announced last week by Scottish Government finance secretary Derek Mackay and has been welcomed by Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale.

She said: “Thanks to the decisions made by the Scottish Government, local government funding is increasing by inflation and Scottish Borders Council have been given an extra £3.5m to spend on local services.

“That’s a good deal for taxpayers and for public services in the Borders.

“In the face of massive Westminster cuts, the Scottish Government is using its powers progressively to invest in our schools and our hospitals and in communities across the area.”

The extra cash for the council was part of a £159.5m deal the ruling Scottish National Party administration was forced to agree with Green Party MSPs to get its budget approved.

February 20’s meeting will be held at the council’s Newtown headquarters, beginning at 10am.

A council spokesman said: “An error in the initial settlement was highlighted in January.

“Due to the uncertainty, it was agreed to move the budget-setting meeting to February 20 to enable the settlement to be clarified and officers to prepare the necessary reports ahead of the council meeting.”

Despite the extra cash announced last week, it is feared that the council is still facing a funding gap of £5.4m and will be forced to make cutbacks, having previously estimated its anticipated shortfall for next year at £8.9m.