A FIVE per cent council tax rise, savings and hundreds of millions of investment in the next 20 years have been approved at Clackmannanshire Council amid “shambolic” economic realities.

A meeting of Clackmannanshire Council on Thursday, March 9, saw the approval of the more than £152m Clackmannanshire Council General Services Revenue Budget for 2023-24 along with the more than £235m capital programme for the next two decades.

The five per cent increase in council tax compares to seven per cent rises in neighbouring Stirling and Falkirk areas.

Council leader Ellen Forson spoke of “shambolic” economic realities, “skyrocketing” inflation, huge increases in construction costs, rising energy costs and bills as she proposed her administration's budget

“Our energy costs here in Clackmannanshire Council alone have increased by £877,000 – that's heating for our schools, nurseries and buildings that are used to deliver crucial public services,” she continued.

“And to put that in context, it's equivalent to a 3.3 per cent council tax increase.”

She spoke of “huge challenges” and “difficult decisions” made by councillors in achieving a balanced general services revenue budget – which is a legal requirement.

Cllr Forson added: “At the administration, we have taken this responsibility very seriously and worked extremely hard to deliver the best outcome we can within the funding that is available to us, taking into consideration affordability, sustainability and delivery of services that people want and need.



“I know no one wants to hear their council tax bill going up or that there will be reductions to services, but the truth of the matter is that both of these have had to be considered for the council to balance its budgets, which we are legally obliged to do.”

The council leader said she was listening to communities, with third sector funding and pupil transport – things salted for cuts in proposals originally put forward by officers – protected.

To keep the council tax increase to five per cent, costs needed to be reduced elsewhere which means “changing the services we provide and reducing overheads”.

“These are not easy decisions to make, as we know this will have an impact on local people and communities – and we have not taken them lightly,” the council leader added.

She went on to explain decisions were made to protect education, social works as well as health and social care but these make up around two-thirds of the budget.

The council, however, is in a position to borrow for capital projects with a range of flagship proposals, such as the wellbeing hub in Alloa and a new-build Lochies school, highlighted in last week's Advertiser.

The capital programme for the next 20 years totals more than £235m.

The budget was approved with 13 votes for and one abstention.

Cllrs Earle, McLuckie, Rennie and Martin were absent and sent their apologies.