Published: 24/01/2019 16:27 - Updated: 24/01/2019 16:41

Demand in Moray for health and social care are 'stretching budget'

SNP co-leader Graham LeadbitterMORAY council will continue to do everything in its power over the next four weeks to address the continuing £5.2million gap in its finances.

That's the message from the local authority's leader Graham Leadbitter who says that increasing demands for some services, such as health and social care, mean other services are having to be looked at very carefully.

Cutbacks proposed on Wednesday would take council’s budget deficit down by £2.4million.

However the remaining financial gap will have to be closed by February 27 when the council finalises its budget.

Cllr Leadbitter (Elgin South, SNP) said: “The council is facing a very challenging set of circumstances. There are several things coming together to make this the most difficult budget we have faced.

"Austerity budgeting from Westminster is a major contributor to these issues, as was the decision by the Tories to abandon the council administration.

“Other contributory factors are the growing pressures on the health service, which is being prioritised and supported with funds coming out of other areas including local government, reserves being at their lowest level for many years and significant budget pressures in some areas of council services, such as care services.

“Ensuring we are providing that funding for vital health and social care services and investment in and expansion of Early Years services for younger children, mean that there are very challenging decisions facing councillors.

“I am grateful that other group leaders have been working together with our administration group in the last few months to address this very challenging budget position and we will continue to work with others, wherever possible, to find a sustainable way forward.

"We will leave no stone unturned as we approach budget day on February 27 to mitigate against the impact of the budget proposals we are having to consider.

“Many of the proposals to reduce spend are things that we, as councillors, would hope we would never have to do but we have a legal responsibility to balance the budget, even in these challenging times.

"We know that many people across Moray will find these proposals difficult, but we will do all we can to mitigate the impacts."

"The cutback measures are expected to lead to a reduction of around 110 jobs across a range of services.

However cllr Leadbetter said a range of new posts would be coming in connection to the Early Years scheme which is being promoted by the Scottish Government.

He continued:

“In the midst of everything else that is happening at the moment we have not lost sight of the increasing importance of growing Moray’s economy, provision of affordable housing, supporting our care services and ensuring children get the best start with early years investment.

"We must also maintain our ambition to make the council sustainable by transforming our services through our modernisation and improvement programme and with the support of senior officers and other councillors we can achieve that for Moray."

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