East Lothian Council’s capital expenditure program has been significantly extended recognizing and providing the enabling infrastructure needed to support the extensive housing development program across the county.
Just under £345m of capital investment is planned over the next five years for projects including the construction of new primary schools in Blindwells, Craighall and East Linton; upgrades and extensions to a number of primary and secondary schools including Aberlady Primary, Elphinstone Primary, Knox Academy, Pinkie St Peter’s Primary and Preston Lodge High School; the redevelopment of Polson Park, Tranent and a major renovation of the Prestongrange museum.
Investment in social housing will see an additional £12m for the modernization and extension program and the introduction of £2.5m of funding this year and repeated over the next five years to energy efficiency.
Councilor Norman Hampshire, Leader of East Lothian Council, said: ‘As with other local authorities across the country, East Lothian Council faces significant financial challenges due to a combination of costs increased such as higher National Insurance payments, increased prices of raw materials and products mainly in construction and the continued uncertainty of financial support from the Scottish Government, particularly for COVID recovery.
“East Lothian of course has one of the fastest growing populations in Scotland and so we need to ensure we are able to protect and provide essential services with this growing demand.
“Through strong financial management over the past few years, I believe we have been able to protect vital public services while recognizing our responsibilities to our residents, our businesses and the environment of East Lothian. In line with the objectives of our climate change strategy, we have introduced new funding for energy efficiency in our social housing stock and increased funding for active travel, including safe walking and cycling routes to schools.
He added: “This budget recognizes our commitment to those who need our services most, our spending on education, from kindergarten and nursery to secondary schools, now amounting to £147 million for the coming year, i.e. just over 53% of the total. the council’s budget and expenditure for adult welfare and associated social work services increased to £63m (23%).
“This budget was established to protect services while trying to reduce costs. To help minimize any council tax increases, we have drawn the maximum amount we have at £8.7m from our reserves, and includes planned national funding of £1.5m for support the recovery of businesses and those of low-income households. This level of reserves will no longer be available in the future, and it must be recognized that the bulk of municipal funding comes from central government funding, with municipal tax revenues contributing only around 24% of the total budget.
“We have sought to keep council tax increases as low as possible with a 3% increase this year, which we recognize will be an additional financial concern for some households, but I believe this will help to maintain the high quality of services and facilities from which we all benefit. in East Lothian.