Tayside and Central Scotland

Falkirk Council must 'grasp nettle' over budget cuts

Falkirk Council Image copyright Google
Image caption Falkirk Council said it was "fully aware" of its responsibilities

Falkirk Council must "grasp the nettle" to tackle £61m worth of cuts over the next three years, according to a new report.

The Accounts Commission said it was "disappointed" at the council's progress since its last report on the authority in August 2015.

It said the council must "do things differently" to balance its budget while managing the impact on services.

Falkirk Council said it was "fully aware" of its responsibilities.

Its leader said many of the required improvements were "already being worked on".

The local authority watchdog's report said "limited progress" had been made by Falkirk Council to address the "underlying need for better coordinated and radical change".

It said the council "urgently needs to identify and agree" its key priorities supported by "a more robust approach" to financial planning.

'Looming budget shortfalls'

The commission said it was encouraged by better collaboration between councillors and that scrutiny had improved, although this could be more "open and transparent".

The report stated: "The council has taken steps to address the issues raised in the last Best Value report in 2015, but the pace of change remains slow."

Commission chairman, Douglas Sinclair, said: "All councils need to get to grips with looming budget shortfalls over the next three years but Falkirk has been slow to realise the scale of what is required and make effective plans for it.

"It must now grasp this nettle and meet the challenges it faces through strong leadership both from councillors and its management team."

'Difficult decisions'

The council's leader, Labour councillor Craig Martin, said: "The report has stated where progress is being made across a number of areas.

"However, we recognise more can be done to improve.

"Falkirk Council is fully aware of its responsibilities and many of the improvements required are already being worked on.

"Despite having to find an unprecedented saving of £25m on our budget, members stepped up to the mark and took the difficult decisions to make sure we set a balanced budget.

"It now looks like we need to plan for further savings of £25m in 2017/18 and members are currently considering options on how this will be achieved."

SNP councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, leader of the opposition on the council, said: "The inspection was thorough and the findings were clear - there is more to be done.

"We are determined to work constructively to ensure this happens and to deliver the best outcomes for our communities."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites