INVERCLYDE Council passed its budget for the new financial year last week.

By mid to late March most local authorities had already set their budgets but here in Inverclyde the council took the decision to delay their budget consultation and their final budget vote until they knew the details of the grant settlement from the SNP government in Edinburgh.

Despite late revisions to the settlement, and a deal with the Scottish Greens, the total funding made available to Scotland’s councils still falls significantly short of what COSLA, the umbrella body for Scotland’s councils, say is required.

According to COSLA, councils needed an additional £545 million in revenue spending this year just to stand still. They didn’t get it. And so Inverclyde Council, like local authorities up and down the country, will be squeezed for another year.
Presenting the budget, council leader Stephen McCabe warned that this budget was not easy. 

The council still has to close a budget gap of £3.175 million in the coming year. That’s a big ask for a council which has already endured too much austerity.

There was, however, some good news for Inverclyde in the budget.

A total £1.3 million will be invested in local facilities like the Lady Octavia Sports Centre and Boglestone Community Centre.

The council will contribute an extra £150,000 to develop a new tennis facility in Inverclyde, taking the council’s total contribution to the project up to half a million.

Another £500,000 will be used to fund an action plan, aimed at promoting repopulation, attracting people to the communities of Inverclyde and breathing new life into the area.

Plans to invest in the next generation will be taken forward, with schools and children’s centres benefiting from a three-year programme of capital spending. That includes the refurbishment and extension of St Mary’s Primary School, a £1.6 million extension to Gourock Primary School, the refurbishment of Hillend Children’s Centre and £350,000 to upgrade Larkfield Children’s Centre.

Even in these testing times, Inverclyde Council has been able to invest in education and community facilities. 

But as the councillors taking those spending decisions will know, with fairer funding for councils, Inverclyde could achieve much more.