13 Feb 2014

Edinburgh Labour seminar: FROZEN OUT? The future for local government



By the time of the next local government elections in 2017, Council Tax will have been frozen for 9 years, with devastating results for budgets, employment and loss of services.

Edinburgh Labour’s Campaign Forum and Edinburgh’s Labour Group are jointly hosting a seminar to discuss these issues and possible alternatives to the present system.

FROZEN OUT?

The future for local government

Saturday, 22 February, 10.30, St Columba’s by the Castle, Johnston Terrace.


All Labour Party members and supporters are welcome.  Speakers are:

  • Professor Arthur Midwinter
  • Sarah Boyack MSP
  • Dave Watson, UNISON

The seminar will be workshop style and will address the following topics:

Tourist Tax and other options to supplement core funding
Financial accountability - priority based budgeting and community consultation.
Business Rates, Business improvement districts, Small Business Bonus Scheme and Tax Incremental Finance
Council Tax - what next (re-banding/re-valuation)
Possible alternatives – Land Value Tax; Local Income Tax

We would be glad to see you there. To allow us to plan for numbers coming along, please advise Martin Hinds, martinlabour.hinds18@gmail.com or Joan Griffiths, joan.griffiths@edinburgh.gov.uk, if you wish to attend.

7 Feb 2014

2014/15 Budget proposals in full



We're publishing today - a week prior to actual Budget Day - the full and final draft of our revised budget proposals for 2014/15.

And, you can still access our initial draft proposals (published in September last year) here - with the associated, detailed figures via links here - and a report on the feedback we received from the public here.

We'll now simply replicate the main text of our final draft motion for 2014/15 below, but it can also be accessed here (that link includes some +30-pages of the associated tables/information!).

I think the motion below speaks for itself ... and it will now be debated at the Budget Day Council Meeting, 10am on Thursday 13th February, to be webcast here.


Motion by the Capital Coalition

Revenue Budget 2014/15; Housing Revenue Account Budget 2014/15; Capital Investment Programme 2014/19


1. Introduction:


1.1 In 2012, the Capital Coalition entered into a contract with the people of Edinburgh which continues to this day. We have committed to:

  • Ensure that Council finances are robust, balanced and used to the city’s best advantage
  • Listen to and work with people in a fair and honest way
  • Invest in key services to meet the needs of our residents 
  • Be open, accountable and efficient
  • Promote Edinburgh as a vibrant, international capital city

These commitments and the pledges contained in the Coalition’s Contract with the Capital are, and will continue to be, central to this administration’s work and budgets for this and future years. 


1.2 Since May 2012, the Capital Coalition has successfully:  

  • Protected front line functions by finding greater efficiencies in the Council’s operations rather than reducing services. The Coalition will continue to do this and emphasises that no area of the Council will be exempt from maximising efficiency and effectiveness
  • Established a high level member/officer team charged with developing radical proposals to transform the way in which the Council does business and generate significant efficiency savings for future years
  • Identified the means for creating the Strategic Investment Fund of £7.5 million which will be invested to maximise overall return to the Council
  • Established a strong working relationship with NHS Lothian to develop a robust plan to reduce levels of delayed discharge in hospitals in line with The Scottish Government’s targets for 2014-2018
  • Started work on the new £37 million James Gillespie’s High School with the new classrooms, gym and nursery at the adjacent primary school already having been completed
  • Agreed to build the new £35 million Boroughmuir High School with work expected to start on the new facility in late 2014 
  • Doubled the capital funding available to deal with rising school rolls to £14.9 million 
  • Outlined a £30 million, 5 year Capital Investment Programme for our schools and other buildings in the Children and Families estate in order to ensure that the condition is graded B or above 
  • Delivered the new Gaelic Medium Education Primary and Nursery School; Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pairce
  • Delivered significant new extensions at five Primary Schools to respond to the challenges of rising school rolls
  • Opened the new Seaview Respite Care Centre 
  • Delivered an extensive ICT refresh programme in the Children and Families estate providing new equipment, improved wireless and internet access and storage
  • Continued to deliver the Council’s Economic Strategy – A Strategy for Jobs 2012-17. This has:

                      o Created or safeguarded 4,213 jobs

                      o Supported £221.7 million of physical investment

                      o Supported 4,445 people into work or learning

  • Pledged continued support for the Edinburgh Guarantee. This has resulted in Edinburgh achieving and sustaining its highest ever rate of positive destinations for school leavers (up from 32nd local authority in 2009/10 to above the Scotland average in 2012/13 with 91.4% of school leavers entering positive destinations) 
  • Agreed funding for a new care home which will open in 2015
  • Invested £16.452 million in 2014/15 to improve roads, footpaths and carriageways throughout the city


1.3 This has all been achieved within an extremely challenging financial climate which has included:

  • The need to make savings of at least £120 million over the next four years; £36 million in 2014/15; £30 million in 2015/16; £38 million in 2016/17 and £16 million in 2017/18 
  • Growing levels of need particularly for older people’s care services and increasing numbers of vulnerable people
  • Financial pressures, many still unclear, as a result of the Westminster Government’s welfare reform agenda 
  • Real-terms reductions in our overall grant funding 
  • Increasing numbers of pupils in our Nursery and Primary Schools 
  • Inflationary increases in costs for example energy and contractual commitments 
  • Changes in legislation such as National Insurance contracted out rate


1.4 Outcome of the consultation


As part of its response to these challenges, the Capital Coalition has given the people of Edinburgh the opportunity to have an even bigger say in the budget setting process. We have:

  • Published a draft budget almost five months ahead of today’s budget meeting
  • Conducted a wide range of public meetings
  • Promoted live question and answer sessions via Social Media 
  • Sent out nearly 40,000 letters and emails


1.5 The Coalition has listened to the range of views expressed and as a direct result of the consultation has decided to:

  • Amend the proposal to share school librarians 
  • Reject the proposal to reduce funding for Additional Support Needs
  • Provide funding to maintain lower class sizes in English and Maths in S1 and S2 for pupils who are experiencing literacy or numeracy difficulties
  • Amend the original proposal for kinship carers

In addition the Coalition has decided to:

  • Increase funding for supported bus services by an additional £120,000 in 2014/15
  • Note the continuing allocation to cycling as a percentage of both the net capital expenditure and the net revenue expenditure of the Transport division of the Council, including revenue funding for core roads services, transport and neighbourhood roads, but excluding tram and certain specifically allocated capital funding, namely flood prevention and coastal protection, agrees this percentage should be increased to 7% for 2014/15 and confirms the actual allocations to cycling for financial years 2012/13 and 2013/14
  • Reject the proposal to reduce funding to Police Scotland for community policing – on the specific written understanding that both partners will work to develop a service level agreement (SLA) focusing on Edinburgh’s needs within Police Scotland’s portfolio of services. That SLA (which will explicitly include Road Safety training) will be monitored and assessed against performance via a Partnership Agreement between Police Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council, with regular reporting to the newly established Police and Fire Scrutiny Committee and the Transport and Environment Committee

1.6 None of these decisions has been taken lightly, wherever a proposal has been amended, funding has had to be found elsewhere to present a balanced budget. However, the Coalition will continue to drive forward progress on the six strands which form the basis of our Contract with the Capital:


    Ensuring every child has the best start in life

  • Investing a further £1.164million in the Early Years Change Fund in 2014-15 bringing the total annual funding level to £4.038 million
  • Providing further revenue funding of £1.131 million in 2014-15 for increasing overall pupil numbers across Primary, Secondary and Early Years
  • Investing to increase the number of nursery hours for 3 and 4 year old children from 475 hours to 600 hours per year in 2014/15
  • Doubling the number of places in holiday respite playschemes
  •  Building on the successful children’s services inspection to improve services from ‘good’ to ‘excellent'  
  • Strengthening commitment to corporate parenting including free leisure cards for looked after children and their carers
  • Continuing to improve services for children with Additional Support Needs. Not only is there no reduction in front line additional support need budgets but £281,000 demography funding has been provided in 2014/15 and by 2017/18 there will be a net increase of funding for additional support needs of 3.8%  
  • Continuing the successful implementation of Curriculum for Excellence with year on year improvements in examination results which are now in line with or above the national average on all measures
  • Working with NHS Lothian and partners to take forward the development of integrated children’s services
        
    Reducing poverty, inequality and deprivation 

  • Investment in mitigating measures to offset the impact of Welfare Reform 
  • Rent arrears have more than doubled since the introduction of the Bedroom Tax in April 2013. A dedicated Welfare Reform Team has been established to help tenants who face difficulties in paying rent 
  • The number of council tenants who receive help through Discretionary Housing Payments has increased from fewer than 100 to more than 1,700. At any one time there is only one single bedroom home available for every 80 households who have had benefits reduced by the Bedroom Tax
  • The Council and its partners will build over 1,000 affordable homes this year, twice the previous yearly average. One of the biggest housing led regeneration projects has begun in Pennywell generating more than 700 new homes 
  • We have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative to deliver a community solar Photo Voltaic (solar panels) Scheme
  • New community cooperatives are being established in Gracemount, Greendykes and West Pilton as part of the 21st Century Homes Programme
  • Continuing investment in digital inclusion for communities building on the People’s Network provision
  • Additional investment of £0.665 million to support benefit administration to enable the Council to respond to the increasing number of applications for benefits arising from national Welfare Reform changes

      
    Providing for Edinburgh’s economic growth

  • Continuing to deliver the Council’s Strategy for Jobs, which is working to create 20,000 new jobs, support £1.3billion of infrastructure investment and help 10,000 people into work or learning by 2017 
  • This includes:
- Supporting the city's four priority investment zones for development and regeneration (City Centre, Waterfront, West Edinburgh and South/South-East Edinburgh)
- Regenerating Edinburgh's town centres
- Commissioning of services to provide childcare support for working parents and supported employment

  •  Developing a Sustainable Energy Action Plan for the city and guidelines for exemplar sustainable projects in the city
  • Accelerating the programme of property and land disposals to encourage appropriate development including (new builds) resulting in the creation of jobs

        
     Strengthening and supporting our communities and keeping them safe

  • Investing £1.2 million of Older People’s Change Fund money to reduce social isolation in communities
  • Continuing to invest in community policing 
  • Continuing work to further reduce recorded crime
  • Building upon the success of year one and the delivery of the cooperative capital framework, the Administration will continue to progress the development of more cooperatives and social enterprises in the city  
  • Investing in CCTV upgrading 
  • Improving engagement with citizens and communities
        
     Ensuring Edinburgh and its residents are well cared for

  • Over £120 million of public and private funds has been invested to build 1000 new affordable homes in 2013/14
  • £48.2 million invested to improve existing homes   
  • Over £3 million invested to provide adaptations to people’s homes  
  • The Council has installed 8,000 new kitchens and bathrooms, 2,000 homes with new windows and 13,000 homes with new doors
  • Investing £8 million in a new 60 bed care home for older people  
  • Investing £8.7 million Change Fund money in new preventative services for older people including £5.6 million for additional home care reablement, intermediate care, care at home and community nursing. This will include increasing the average number of domiciliary care hours delivered per week from 42,557 in 2012/13 to 47,055 during 2013/14 (a 10.6% increase)  
  • Investing £5.1 million in new services for increasing numbers of older people, adults with learning and physical disabilities and increased need for assessment and mental health services  
  • Working with staff and residents of Council care homes to improve services  
  • Working toward making Edinburgh a dementia friendly city  
  • Continuing to work with and provide support for carers  
  • Continuing the development of Health and Social Care integration with NHS Lothian and Partners  
  • Preparing Council and other services for the introduction of Self Directed Support in April 2014
     
    Maintaining and enhancing the quality of life in Edinburgh

  • Securing Heritage Lottery Funds which will potentially bring in over £5 million of investment for Saughton Park and the historic winter gardens
  • Redeveloping Central Library as a cultural hub for the city
  • Further developing libraries as community hubs by opening 3 new libraries in Craigmillar, Kaimes and Drumbrae
  • Continuing to work with partners to reinforce Edinburgh’s position as a global events and festivals destination
  • Earmarking up to £200,000 to fund feasibility work into the future of Meadowbank
  • Investment in the City’s infrastructure (including roads, pavements, bridges, structures and flood prevention)
-  2013/14 - £41.440 million
-  2014/15 - £35.166 million



1.7 An additional Capital budget of £28.5 million was approved last year for 2013-2017. Work to deliver projects has been continuing over the last 12 months and will now focus on:
  • £32 million to be spent on affordable housing 
  • £26 million to be invested across the Council’s property estate to maintain infrastructure, including building management systems and to make it more energy efficient
  • £16 million spend on improving roads and pavements 
  •  £38 million investment in a new Portobello High School
  • Investing in energy-efficient white street lighting via £2 million of interest free external funding 
  • Replacement of St Crispin’s Special School
  • Building a new St John’s RC Primary School  
  • Continuing to invest in providing additional accommodation in Primary Schools to respond to the challenges of rising rolls with new extensions or adaptation works planned and well advanced at Kirkliston, Broughton, Craigour Park, Flora Stevenson, Fox Covert, St David’s, Stockbridge and Victoria Primary Schools

Continuous monitoring of the Council’s capital programme will be undertaken to ensure projects are delivered on time and on budget.



2.0 Savings 
 
The main areas for savings are carried through from last year’s budget and focus on:

  • Delivering procurement transformational efficiencies
  • Implementing internal improvement plans
  • Maximising income generation
  • Reducing our carbon footprint and generating income through strategic energy projects
  • Reducing the head count of the organisation by developing existing staff, revising roles and responsibilities and preparing for a structural review of the organisation
  • Reducing sickness absence to 4% across the organisation
  • Maximising savings through the rationalisation of the Council’s property estate 
  • Review the effectiveness of existing measures to further encourage improved performance across the Council and partners


3.0 Risks and Challenges 
 
The Council continues to face significant risks and challenges which are more clearly defined in the Revenue and Budget report 2014/15 – Risks and Reserves (Appendix 1); these will be actively managed and reported through Council/Committee.


4.0 Future Budget Development 
 
Council further agrees to:

  • Continue to drive the efficiency and effectiveness agenda to ensure value for money across all service areas
  • Work across all council services to ensure delivery of the Coalition’s pledges  
  • Continue to work with partner agencies to maximise resources and deliver the highest quality integrated services
  • Launch, on a phased basis, a new citywide Shared Repairs Service in 2014
  • Continue to improve budget consultation 
  • Publish a draft budget in early autumn 2014 and keep budget consultation and engagement as a continuous process
  • Continue to reach out to those who currently do not interact with the Council to gain their views on how we spend and save
  • Work with partner agencies to develop a more cohesive approach to budgeting and service provision  
  • Further develop the cooperative and trust models in the delivery of services
  • Work to develop an SLA, focussing on Edinburgh’s needs within Police Scotland’s portfolio of services
  • Review the current model of Kinship Care with a view to developing its role within the Looked After Children’s sector  
  • Reduce energy consumption across the Council’s estate and investigate establishing energy services companies to develop projects, to reduce emissions and save money

5. Conclusions 
 
Council notes:

  • The report by the Director of Corporate Governance setting out the Revenue and Capital Budget framework
  • The report by the Director of Corporate Governance setting out the potential equality and rights risks and carbon risks associated with the revenue budget framework 
  • The consultation undertaken and the commitment to increase engagement in setting future budgets
  • The review of both third sector grants and the mechanism for delivery to meet future challenges 
  • The work being undertaken by the BOLD project and the corporate review of alternative delivery mechanisms in supporting high quality service

Council approves: 

  • The Revenue Budget set out in the reports, subject to adjustments, in Appendix 1 to this motion
  • The 2014/19 Capital Budget as set out in the report by the Director of Corporate Governance  
  • A band ‘D’ Council Tax of £1,169
  • The Council Tax and Rating resolution set out in Appendix 2 to this motion
  • The schedule of charges for Council services as set out in Appendix 3 to this motion
  • The Prudential Indicators as set out in Appendix 4 to this motion  
  • The recommendation by the Director of Services for Communities to increase rents by 6% and the outline 5 year Housing Revenue Account Capital programme for 2014-2019

 ======


1 Dec 2013

Let's talk about saving and spending



Council Leader, Andrew Burns, has highlighted the publication of the Capital Coalition's Draft 2014/15 Budget proposals on several occasions over on his blog ...

... and as Andrew has mentioned, there is plenty of detailed information up on the Council's website - the main (but not exclusive) links we'd highlight would be:


Closing date for feedback is Friday 20th December 2013 ... and there are lots of options for how to send in your thoughts:

  • Online – www.edinburgh.gov.uk/budget – links to the short budget film and presentation, and feedback form 
  • Feedback at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/EdinburghBudget 
  • Complete a printed feedback form – available from libraries and neighbourhood offices
  • Email – councilbudget@edinburgh.gov.uk
  • By writing at Freepost, RSJC-SLXC-YTJY, Budget, Council Leader, City Chambers Edinburgh EH1 1YJ
  • completing the feedback form over the phone 0131 200 2305 (open 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Thursday, 8.30am to 3.40 pm Friday)

We do hope as many Edinburgh residents as possible will provide some feedback on these draft proposals - it will be taken into account prior to the final setting of the 2014/15 Budget on Thursday 13th February 2014.


Let's talk about our saving and spending
Read about the financial challenges with the Council's budget
See the proposals we have for where we spend and save
Tell us what you think


7 Aug 2013

Stand Up for Labour on 22 August!




Edinburgh Labour is delighted to announce that Stand Up for Labour will be performing for one night only at the Edinburgh Fringe on Thursday 22 August.

The morale-boosting and fund-raising event will take place at the Leith Dockers Club, 17-17A Academy Street, Edinburgh EH6 7EE. Among those appearing are:

  • Arnold Brown is the Godfather of Alternative Comedy and was one of the first Perrier Award Winners. He was one of the first acts at the Comedy Store in London and has appeared in The Young Ones! He also shared the bill with Frank Sinatra at a gig in Ibrox Stadium. His offbeat humour has won him fans across the generations and he is making his fourth appearance at a Stand up for Labour event.
  • Stephen Carlin is described as 'one of the ten best comedians ever' by Stewart Lee and has starred in Comedy Central's 'The Alternative Comedy Experience'. He was headline act at Stand up for Labour's Rotherham event, which was attended by four MPs!
  • GrĂ¡inne Maguire is a regular writer for Radio 4 and has appeared at Stand up for Labour events in Cardiff, Ilford and Eastbourne (with Denis Healey!). She has won over audiences with her unlikely mixture of celebrity and shadow cabinet gossip. She even warmed up the crowd for Ed Miliband at last year's Labour conference.
  • Manos Kanellos is a former academic who has brought hilarity to issues of world economics and other subjects you may have thought too heavy to laugh at. He has been a smash at Stand up for Labour and is expected to make an impression at this year's Edinburgh Festival.

The host for the night is Crispin Flintoff, founder of Stand up for Labour, who is a Labour Party candidate for his local council as well as being a star of Paramount Comedy Channel's The World Stands Up.

Tickets for the event cost only £10 and can be ordered from Edinburgh Labour Organiser, Garreth Lodge by contacting him on 07557 365 854 or at garreth.labour@gmail.com.

There will be guest speakers, a raffle and liquid prizes!

21 Jun 2013

Labour gain in Liberton & Gilmerton



Keith and some of his campaign team
celebrate today's result.
Congratulations to Keith Robson and his campaign team! Keith has been elected as a Labour and Co-operative councillor by the voters of Liberton and Gilmerton. This is a Labour gain, and means Edinburgh Labour now has 21 elected members.

A huge thank you to everyone who has helped during the course of the campaign. It has been a fantastic team effort from Edinburgh Labour and from comrades and friends from further afield.

Full details and the official notification can be found on the Edinburgh Council website.