Glasgow City Council has passed a budget that invests in communities and ensures the city is ready to deal with its half-billion-pounds equal pay bill.
Members today backed the City Government’s budget plan for 2019/20, which will see Council Tax rise by 3% – well below the 4.79% cap set by the Scottish Government.
Spending plans for the coming year will not see the closure of any community facilities, but will invest around £26 million in neighbourhood infrastructure like pavements and roads.
Meanwhile, some £20 million will be invested in developing new community hubs designed to bring together valued local services under one roof.
Council leader Susan Aitken said: “I am delighted that a budget which maintains the importance of Glasgow’s communities, protects frontline services and cherished facilities and continues to invest in this city’s priorities has been passed by Council.
“It is a budget which builds on both the commitments my administration was elected on and the foundations the City Government has laid in social justice and inclusive economic growth.
“It addresses the need for sustainability and carbon reduction; invests almost £50million on community facilities and the fabric of our neighbourhoods; acknowledges the invaluable role of our staff and the need to promote fair work and quality jobs and skills, and it supports the needs of our youngest and oldest citizens.
“Of course, after a decade of austerity we face considerable challenges but I am delighted that we have presented a balanced budget underpinned by fairness. We have ensured that, despite the continued attacks on our poor and vulnerable, we have again done all in our power to protect Glaswegians from the worst ravages of austerity.
“It is also a historic budget because the process of finally ending pay discrimination in this city underway. Justice comes with a price, it presents us with challenges and it accounts for over half this year’s budget gap.
“But these women are entitled to every single penny and this budget begins the process of putting half a billion pounds into the hands of working women – the single biggest act of redistribution that any government has carried out in this city in decades.”
Heading into today’s budget meeting, the city’s spending gap was just under £41 million, largely due to the effects of inflation – and the requirement to set aside cash to meet the initial costs of settling equal pay claims.
Members agreed to close the gap through a range of measures – from prudent use of the city’s reserves to a package efficiency savings; spending reductions, and changes to fees and charges designed to generate more income.
This means the city is able to protect valued frontline services, while investing in key priorities.
This includes a new economic development programme bringing together support for apprenticeships, employment, in-work progression, the Living Wage and social enterprise that will secure Glasgow’s status as a Fair Work City.
City Treasurer Cllr Allan Gow said: “This budget meets the immediate challenges facing the city by balancing our finances, while protecting local services and making long-overdue provision to meet our obligations on equal pay.
“However, our investments in communities and neighbourhood infrastructure are also about fundamentally changing the way we manage our resources in the years and decades ahead.
“For too long, the way we have done things has left the city stretching itself to maintain facilities that are already out-of-date and unfit for purpose. We are determined to build 21st Century services for a 21st Century city.”
Changes to kerbside bin collections – where crews currently service many bins that are less than half full – will see some homes switch to a three-weekly cycle; reducing waste and landfill and increasing recycling rates.
A new environmental ticket levy will establish a £2.50-per-head fee for major events like festivals and concerts held in the city’s parks, ensuring our green spaces and the people who use them benefit.
The city’s successful Holiday Hunger programme, which last summer saw 14,600 young people served more than 131,000 healthy meals and snacks, will continue – and popular initiatives to cut traffic around schools and close streets to allow children to play in a safe, traffic-free environment will be extended.
The last of the city’s infamous red blaes pitches will be eradicated from schools, thanks to a £2.5 million investment in modern Multi-use Games Areas.
Membersalso signed off on a healthy programme of capital spending; with a total of £94 million available for the first of a new generation of community facilities, a major investment in nurseries and various other projects across the council family.