Aberdeen City Council is operating in an environment of increasingly constrained public finances.
The settlement from Scottish government for the year ahead means that local authorities across the country are facing some of the toughest choices we’ve ever known. Aberdeen is no different.
Our revenue funding has been cut by more than £10million, while we must contend with additional cost pressures of £16m.
All of this comes at a time when the city, and the north-east more widely, is in the grip of a prolonged downturn in the oil and gas industry.
We have a balanced budget which protects frontlines services, jobs and will also drive inward investment into the city. Our approach to the savings has been to focus on back office efficiency savings.
Aberdeen City Council has a 8,500-strong workforce and, despite the cut to our budget, we will protect every single one of our employees. This comes at a time when other local authorities are being forced to consider swingeing job cuts.
Our budget allows continued investment in vital services that the most vulnerable people in our communities rely on. I think it is also important to note the impact this council can have on the local economy and indeed the well-being of our citizens.
Despite the fiscal pressures, we will spend £450m through our revenue budget this year and commit in excess of £550m in our capital programme over the next five years.
Our capital budget is an ambitious, but achievable, programme which is designed to breed confidence in the city and is in addition to the funding set out in the City Region Deal.
There remains much work to be done, however, the City Region Deal has the potential to ensure the continued economic success of the north east of Scotland and yesterday I chaired what was the first meeting of the joint committee which will capitalize on the opportunities before us.
We have also seen progress made on major projects connected to the strategic infrastructure plan. the project to provide a new exhibition and conference centre for the city, and indeed the wider north-east region, is moving forward at pace.
Our capital budget has provision of £59m for roads infrastructure projects, including more than £19m for the Berryden corridor, a further contribution of £26m for the AWPR, £80m of investment for green energy, £81m for the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, funds to invest in flood prevention measures, and £34m for city-centre regeneration as part of the City Centre Masterplan.
It also includes £130m for new schools which highlights our continuing commitment to education right across the city. These projects include the new state-of-the-art centre of excellence facility for children with serious and complex needs; the new academy south of the city, and a replacement Stoneywood primary school. Work also recently started on a £5m extension at Greenbrae Primary School in the Bridge of Don.
Our budget provides the strongest approach to the challenges we face with the best options for serving the people and place of Aberdeen.