There were no surprises – but a deluge of opposition dissent – as Angus councillors passed a budget which will see a 3% council tax increase and a £3.723 million savings package brought in to address the authority’s £11m shortfall in 2017/18.
Councillors ran a gauntlet of protest on their way into Forfar Town and County Hall from unions angry over the potential impact of cuts on home care services including the round-the-clock Angus Community Alarm.
But they were blocked from addressing the budget meeting by Provost Alex King under the council’s standing orders, ahead of the SNP administration’s finance spokesman Bill Duff detailing the steps required to meet the “unprecedented challenges” facing the public sector.
Angus faces having to make savings of up to £50 million in the next three to four years and Mr Duff said the council’s previous needs-based approach was “no longer tenable”.
“The Council will still be there as a large part of life of people in Angus, but it will be a different organisation: nimbler, more efficient, more digital, smarter, perhaps commissioning services rather than delivering them, collaborating more with neighbouring authorities, leaner.”
The 3% council tax increase will add £1.475 million to the council coffers, boosted to a total figure of double that when water and sewerage charges and the Scottish Government-imposed multiplier on Band E to H homes is taken into account.
Top level council tax payers in Angus are facing a 26% hike on their annual bill after 11 years of the charge freeze.
Mr Duff said: “To be clear, the weight of the burden for increased council tax does fall on those in higher banded properties.
“On the basis that those with the broadest shoulders are asked to carry the heaviest burden, that should be seen as a fair and equitable approach.”
No alternative budget was put up, but a number of opposition councillors registered their dissent over the package passed.
Monifieth and Sidlaws councillor Craig Fotheringham slammed the impact the double whammy his constituents will be hit with as the combined tax rise and upper band increase comes into effect.
“This will bring £1/2 million extra from my ward in an area that really has very little services. Monifieth and Sidlaw doesn’t have a council-owned community facility or sports centre and the closure of the recycling centre was a disgrace, yet it contributes huge sums in council tax.”
Montrose member David May added: “The Scottish Government received an increase in both their revenue and capital funding from the UK government, but despite that they have imposed swinging and savage cuts on our council funding.
“This is disastrous news for us here in Angus. I am appalled that yet again we are hitting the elderly and our young people, groups that need our support and not cuts in services.”