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EXCLUSIVE: Soaring £7m energy bills will hit council services in Dundee, Perthshire and Angus

Tayside councils braced for soaring bills.
Tayside councils braced for soaring bills.

Budget-cutting local authorities across Tayside are braced for their energy bills to soar by an eye-watering £7 million in the coming year, putting even more pressure on vital public services.

The huge rises predicted for the cost of powering council buildings in Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross were branded “extortionate” last night – and sparked fresh demands for extra support.

The councils admitted the escalating energy crisis will increase “pressure” on resources and have a “significant” impact on their already-stretched finances.

Figures released to The Courier under freedom of information laws show Dundee City Council predicts its bill will hit £9.27m in the year ahead, a rise of 58% compared to last year.

The data includes a doubling of gas costs in Dundee, from £1.7m to £3.5m.

Electricity spending is expected to rocket from £4.1m in 2020-21 to £5.7m in the coming year.

Perth and Kinross Council is budgeting for its energy costs to go up by 54% from £3.4m to £5.3m in the same period.

Angus Council estimate its bill will increase from just under £5m this year to £6.5m next year.

The authority fears the final amount will be even higher.

Power bills are soaring across the country because of a squeeze on global gas supplies, caused by increased demand in Asia and a cold winter in Europe.

The fall-out from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is expected to make the situation even worse.

Council-run buildings can include the authority’s headquarters, local schools, care centres, sports facilities, libraries, transport depots and waste sites.

Angus Council said: “As can be seen from the figures the impact on Angus Council’s energy budget is significant.

“As energy bills also affect inflation, the council’s procurement processes will be affected by increased costs.

“The increased costs will be managed within the council’s available budget.”

Only Angus Council provided estimated data for costs in this financial year, 2021-22.

Dundee City Council, which rubber-stamped £8.9m of savings last month, said rising energy bills were poised to “increase pressure on the council’s revenue budget”.

Scottish Labour’s energy spokesman Colin Smyth said: “Soaring energy bills are piling pressure on stretched council budgets, just as they are for households.

‘Extortionate increases’

“Councils can ill-afford these extortionate increases after the SNP have cut their funding to the bone.

“The UK and Scottish governments have both been missing in action as households, businesses and councils alike are hammered by the growing energy cost crisis.”

A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “The council continually monitors energy costs as part of its ongoing financial planning.

“Regular reports are supplied to committee.

Dundee City Council HQ

“Last autumn a report was approved to identify, design, install and guarantee energy conservation measures in council properties.

“In the third phase of a programme, 20 buildings, including schools, community centres and offices, are being assessed for the introduction of measures like building energy control optimisation, LED lighting upgrades, solar photovoltaic roof panels, modifications to heating and ventilation and cooling systems.

“With an expenditure limit of £2,747,748, the contractor has guaranteed energy savings of £251,554 a year, equating to 22% of the baseline energy cost for the 20 properties.”

‘Less money for services’

A spokeswoman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said: “Councils will face very real pressures next year as a result of the settlement for 2022-23, something that Cosla has continued to raise with Scottish Government.

“As large users of energy – in schools, care homes, leisure centres, depots, etc – rising energy costs, on top of other pressures including pay, inflation, supplies and ongoing loss of income, will ultimately mean less money for services.

“Councils will also be facing additional cost pressures due to the fact that commissioned services will also have to meet these significant energy increases making these services more expensive.”

The group will send its concerns to the government as part of its resource spending review.

Council tax 2022-23: How your charges compare with the rest of Scotland

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