Angus Council must fill a financial black hole the equivalent of axeing every primary school teacher and half of the area’s secondary teachers in the next three years.
That’s the reality of figures being presented to councillors next week which set out a staggering £51 million shortfall in the authority’s medium term budget.
It means the council must shave almost 20% off its spending between now and 2026.
And it has brought a firm message from authority leaders the public should expect service cuts in the years ahead.
As well as a plea from council chief executive Margo Williamson for Angus residents to treat her staff with respect.
What is going before councillors?
At full council on Thursday, the medium term budget strategy report will lay bare the financial crisis facing the council in the next three years.
The base projection is for a budget gap next year of £22.8 million.
It is exactly double the figure finance chiefs projected in November 2021.
And it will be followed by further forecast gaps of £13.6 million in 24/25 and £15.4 million in 25/26.
It gives a three-year base budget shortfall of £51.9 million.
That requires savings of 19.3% of the council’s base budget over the three years.
It is the equivalent of:
- Completely stopping all children, families and justice services plus all waste services and all roads & transport services (£55m)
- Cutting every primary teacher and half the area’s secondary teachers (£49m)
- Slashing 80% of the funding provided to the Angus Health and Social Care Partnership for adult social care services
The combination of factors contributing to the worrying picture includes rising inflation, and energy costs.
And the council says it is being hard hit by rising construction costs, pay settlements and higher interest rates.
Capital project costs such as the new Monifieth High School have rocketed.
And the scale of the savings required are in addition to savings of £78.1 million already made over the past 10 years.
It’s brought the warning cuts or substantial changes to council services will be on the way when the budget is set next February.
Council tax level ‘untenable’
Finance convener Bill Duff said: “The financial situation is unprecedented.
“All elected members will need to take bold and difficult decisions to stop, or radically alter, council services to achieve a balanced budget.
He said an Angus council tax level which has set around 8% below the Scottish average is now “untenable”.
Council leader Beth Whiteside said: “No councillor wants to get elected to make cuts and increase charges, but there is no escaping the financial realities we now find ourselves in.
“Our job is to take responsibility and make the best decisions we can to prioritise our resources.
“We know that many families are stretched financially, but the council has to continue to protect our most vulnerable citizens and provide essential services and to do that, we will have to ask those who can, to do more.”
“We particularly want to ask the people of Angus to work with us, because with community support, pooling resources and prioritising the work we currently do, we can get Angus through this challenging time.
“However, people must understand that we simply won’t be able to do everything that we’ve always done.”
And authority chief executive Margo Williamson has made a plea on behalf of her under-pressure workforce.
“Like elected members, colleagues in Angus Council became public servants to make a difference and deliver quality services for everyone.
“As our recent best value report showed, we are already a lean and efficient organisation.
“I hope the public will be mindful that colleagues in the council are already under significant pressure, delivering more services with less money and fewer colleagues, while dealing with their own personal challenges.
“Please treat Angus Council staff with respect during this challenging period. We all want to do the best job we can to ensure Angus a great place to live, work and visit.”