Christmas cheer after budget blues fears

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EAST Dunbartonshire Council (EDC) received a welcome Christmas present from the Scottish Government - a better than expected budget settlement.

Holyrood will grant the authority £191.185million for 2012/13 - more than was hoped for.

However, £3.3m of savings will still have to be made, though council bosses are confident job losses will be avoided when EDC sets its budget in February.

A spokeswoman for EDC said that the higher than expected settlement means that the authority “won’t have to implement some of the more severe service reductions”.

She said: “The council had been making contingency plans for significant reductions and has been consulting with stakeholders on the options that are available. Whilst the council has received a slight uplift in funding, the predicted budget remains almost unchanged at £190million for the next three years and this will keep the pressure on finances.

“The council faces significant challenges in meeting inflationary costs at the same time as meeting increasing demands on services for older people and vulnerable citizens.”

Settlement

EDC is still looking at cost savings, including raising school meal charges by 15p and doubling the cost of pest control call-outs to £40 and other savings will be made by not filling vacancies.

Council Leader Rhondda Geekie said: “The terms of the settlement are better than we had forecast, however we are still under pressure to make savings in order for us to deal with the significant challenges we face over the next three years.

“We will now be able to minimise spending reductions which impact on our customers, particularly the most vulnerable members of our community.”