Setting the council’s budget has become significantly harder in recent years.
Like cities and communities across the world, we’ve had to contend with the economic impact of Covid-19.
The loss of income, the cost of safety measures.
Before the pandemic, Aberdeen was reeling from a downturn in the oil and gas industry.
And now, in early 2022, Russia’s attack on Ukraine is threatening to trigger a global recession, the ripple effect of this brutal invasion felt already in rising fuel costs.
In times of crises, residents naturally look to government for help.
As a council, we took budget decisions to support families and residents struggling to pay bills.
We have allocated £1 million for a new Aberdeen Fuel Poverty Assistance Fund for people not covered by national schemes, which is expected to benefit over 6,000 households in the city.
We have also frozen a raft of charges – school meals, parking, garden waste collection – having fixed council rents for two years in 2021/22.
And we maintained full funding for the Fairer Aberdeen Fund, community projects, equalities organisations, Sistema, and SHMU.
Our budget has fairness and inclusion at its heart.
In looking after our vulnerable residents we continue to work closely with the Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership, a relationship that was greatly strengthened during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 2022/23 budget protects the council’s frontline services that residents and businesses rely on, and we have maintained our commitment to no compulsory redundancies.
Council staff are helping people to manage debt, access benefits, learn skills, find new routes to work, and preserve their mental wellbeing.
The budget also recognises that residents, including our youngest, want to play a leading role in transforming their own communities.
Last week our school pupils took part in their own version of COP26, sharing their ideas for building a better world.
We have appointed the city’s first Pupil Climate Change President, a role created by the council to represent the voice of young people at education committee and events throughout the year.
The 2022/23 budget includes £150,000 for priority projects identified by pupils.
Aberdeen has a fantastic future, and our capital spend is very much an investment.
Around £500 million is being spent in council housing over five years, which includes modernising stock and delivering an additional 2,000 council homes.
Work has just started on a 536-unit development at Cloverhill, and a further 416 council homes will be delivered at Craighill, Kaimhill, Kincorth and Tillydrone.
Ours is a city where people want to live and work.
Life in Aberdeen can, of course, be difficult for some, but we are fortunate in many respects.
Watching images of Ukrainians – their homes bombed, their loved ones missing, injured or dead – you cannot but appreciate what you have.
As part of the Common Good Fund budget we made £25,000 available to support refugees from Ukraine arriving in the UK.
That was one of the easier budget decisions I’ve had to make, drawing as it did on Aberdeen’s long-standing spirit of giving.