South Scotland

Dumfries and Galloway Council's £79m savings aim 'challenging'

Council HQ Image copyright Billy McCrorie
Image caption The savings target facing the council has been estimated at £79m

A new report has said a Scottish council faces "difficult decisions" to meet an estimated savings target of £79m over the next five years.

The best value assurance study of Dumfries and Galloway Council was prepared for the Accounts Commission.

It also revealed that the recent termination of a waste management contract cost the council £6.5m.

However, it praised progress since the last audit and the authority's "clear strategic direction".

The previous best value report dates back to 2009 and the council has been praised for the "effective leadership" and maintaining its priorities over a number of administrations since then.

Image copyright Renewi
Image caption Ending a waste management contract has cost the council £6.5m

The study said the pace of improvement had increased since 2014 and would have to increase again.

The council has saved £86m since 2010/11 but has estimated it will have to save a similar sum by 2022/23.

"Achieving this will be challenging and elected members will need to make difficult decisions about services," the report said.

"Effective leadership from officers and elected members will be required so the council can transform at the pace needed."

Falling satisfaction

It also flags up poor performance in recycling relating to "long-standing issues" with a 25-year PFI waste management contract.

A change in regulations ultimately prompted the local authority to end that deal in September this year at a cost of £6.5m.

Other areas flagged up in the report include:

  • a fall in satisfaction with leisure facilities
  • continued strong community engagement
  • mixed performance on national indicators but they have generally been maintained or improved
  • performance management arrangements have improved

The best value assurance report is due to be considered by the Accounts Commission at a meeting on Thursday.

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