Budget agreed for 2018/19

Councillors met today (8.2.2018) and reached agreement on the 2018/19 budget for Aberdeenshire.



Councillors agreed to a revenue budget for the 2018/19 year of £543 million. This is the amount held to cover day-to-day funding of services such as staffing and service delivery.

The authority has almost £1 billion every year to support and sustain local services across Aberdeenshire through revenue, capital, reserves and the money allocated to the Integration Joint Board. This brings in services provided, investment in the wider estate including schools, leisure facilities and infrastructure like roads and bridges; investment in housing and the combined spending power of the council and NHS working together to deliver health and social care services.

Meanwhile there are significant pressures from within and out with the Council, and as a result a balanced budget was prepared and presented to councillors, which requires a number of efficiencies and service re-design to reach that position.

Last week it was announced that the settlement received from the Scottish Government (which makes up around 55% of Aberdeenshire Council funding) was set to increase by an extra £7.7million. Members debated the best use of that extra resource and have agreed that it will be used in a number of ways. Money will be set aside to support the impact of the lifting of the pay-cap for public sector workers (albeit that will be subject to negotiation through COSLA), to mitigate specific overspends, and reduce or cancel a number of savings in areas like music tuition, public transport, children's social work, and sport and culture. Reserves are used to cope with any unforeseen events as well as to support statutory duties.

By the end of this year, reserves will sit at around £33 million, although that total will be supported with some of the extra income agreed in the chamber. The focus of the reserves for the coming year will be on roads and winter maintenance, changes coming in education governance, and regeneration projects.

Introducing the revenue budget, Council Leader Jim Gifford said: “Our challenge as a council remains: we face difficult financial times, but we have a plan. It’s a plan that encapsulates all areas of our business, through revenue, capital, housing and reserves. It is a multi-year plan, a plan that tries to forecast how the financial position is likely to change in the years ahead; a plan that considers the impact of increasing pressure on our services as a result of a growing and ageing population; and a plan that considers the buildings and facilities that we will need operate in over the next five decades.”


An increase in Council Tax was approved today. For the 2018/19 year, bills will go up by 3%.

That takes a which would take the total amount raised in Council Tax across Aberdeenshire up to £138 million for the year. It will add £35 onto the annual bill for a band D property. 


The capital plan was agreed, with the 2018/19 budget set at £103 million.

The plan runs over 15 years, at a value of around £850 million in total. The capital plan is made up of significant projects such as schools, roads, depots, infrastructure projects and improvements to the Council Housing stock.

For the first time, a new Academy in Peterhead appears on the plan, albeit an agreement in principle to explore the opportunities and options in more detail. If delivered this could come with a project value of around £71 million.

Introducing the capital budget, Cllr Jim Gifford said: “We continue to make significant investment in our buildings and infrastructure – both structural and digital. We are investing around £100 million each year, thereby both providing benefit to the public services we deliver and stimulating economic activity. It is important to invest in a time when there are economic challenges; our programme provides investment and creates jobs across the area.”


Money held to support the Housing stock is treated separately from revenue accounts and others. The resulting fund is known as the Housing Revenue Account, or HRA, is funded by Council House rent, and is used to fund the maintenance and management of Council Houses to the benefit of the tenants.

Councillors agreed to set budgets for the HRA at £61 million for the coming financial year. Specific reference was made to significant work taking place on the Local Housing Strategy, the challenges and successes from working to provide gypsy traveller sites, working with partners including registered social landlords and developers, energy efficiency and getting to grips with the news ways of working presented by the roll-out of Universal Credit.

In 2015, following extensive consultation with residents, it was agreed that a £3.75% increase would be applied to rents for the subsequent three financial years. 2018/19 is the last year of that agreement and bills are increasing accordingly. Members were made aware that plans are already being drawn up to repeat those discussion to agree a new strategy for future years.

Introducing the HRA budget, Cllr Anne Stirling, Chair of the Communities Committee, said: “This past year has been an incredibly busy time for the Housing service. Delivering the day-to-day needs of our customers is always our top priority and we pride ourselves on the positive and constructive relation we have with our tenants. We continue in our determination that value for money and continuous improvement underpins everything we do. Officers are working extremely hard to ensure that the Housing Service is a modern and efficient service that is able to deliver on the needs of tenants, both today and in the future.”


Carbon reductions for the year were also agreed after Aberdeenshire became the first Council in Scotland to set a carbon budget last year.

Each of the four council services are annually allocated an annual carbon total, reduced year on year to meet strict national targets. The new approach encourages employees to fundamentally consider their resulting carbon implications.

An allocation of CO2e for 2018/19 has been agreed at 69,587 tCO2e (tonnes Carbon Dioxide Equivalent) across the Council, down 4000 tCO2e. That is the same as taking 784 cars off the road for an entire year or is the same amount of energy that an average house uses for 308 years.

Introducing the carbon budget, Cllr Jim Gifford said: “Across Scotland, there is recognition that climate change will have far reaching effects on Scotland’s economy, its people and its environment and by setting an annual Carbon Budget, Aberdeenshire Council is doing its part in trying to tackle climate change through mitigation. With this Carbon Budget Aberdeenshire Council is leading the way in ensuring that the Council is being both accountable and transparent in how it is reducing its own carbon emissions. Climate change mitigation is a whole Council issue and therefore all Council services have a duty to consider ways in which they can reduce their emissions.”

The meeting was webcast and an archive of every discussion can be found at the following link, https://aberdeenshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/home