Cross-party budget of £10m will invest in South Lanarkshire says council leader

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New funds supporting businesses, families and climate change initiatives will be set up after councillors agreed South Lanarkshire’s budget for 2021-22.

In total, £10m is set to be invested in region as part of a range of measures which will also support pandemic recovery following an increased grant settlement from the Scottish Government.

Council leader John Ross (Hamilton South) hailed the cross-party budget as “an opportunity for us to actually invest” in the region adding that “it just shows what can be done when most councillors are able to put party politics aside”.

On Wednesday, February 24, councillors formally approved the cross-party budget by 45 votes to 17 over an alternative “We can do more” proposal by the Labour group.

Cuts, efficiency savings and price increases of £5.4m will supplement the £7.6m in extra funding to create the new funds.

In order to fund an anticipated pay award, £3m has been set aside following proposals from the Scottish Government.

Council tax has been frozen at £1203 for a Band D property for next year after money was set aside by the Scottish Government to support councils who chose to do so.

A £2m education recovery fund to help children and young people overcome the impact of the pandemic and restrictions on their education and wellbeing is to be set up as well as a new £2m climate change fund to improve and protect local environments.

Councillors also agreed to set up a £3m Get South Lanarkshire Working fund to help local businesses and jobs following the pandemic.

New investment of around £2m has been agreed for the maintenance and repair of both roads and pavements with further investment totalling around £1m in other areas, including winter gritting.

Councillor Ross added: “I did fear that this budget would be a particularly difficult one to balance but I am delighted to confirm today that we are in a much better position than any of us could reasonably have expected.

“The budget proposals I am presenting don’t just rule out the worst cuts that at one time we feared we would have to make to our services. Rather, they provide an opportunity for us to actually invest in South Lanarkshire.”

Four of the five political groups had been locked in talks over the past few weeks to thrash out a budget for next year.

The Labour group had been invited to take part but refused after preconditions to remove proposed cuts to school holiday lunch clubs and breakfast clubs weren’t met.