THE local authority continues to face an “extremely challenging financial position”, Clackmannanshire councillors will hear this week.

Elected representatives are due to hear an update on Clackmannanshire Council’s budget strategy at a meeting on Thursday, May 16.

The council continues to operate in a “challenging and highly uncertain” financial and economic context, the Kilncraigs chamber will be told on the day.

Documents to be tabled said: “For this reason, spending restraint and the recruitment freeze implemented during the 2024-25 financial year will continue until at least June 2024 and will be reviewed in the light of the council’s 2024-25 Quarter 1 outturn forecasts.”

It will be “extremely important” to prioritise the implementation of savings approved in the recent budget while uncommitted reserves sit at two per cent of net expenditure, at £3.23 million.

The indicative funding gap, the amount of money needed to continue ongoing operations, is just over £13m for 2025-26 with a cumulative gap of £29.662m by 2028-29, based on current assumptions.

The council has already approved savings of £65.7m since 2010.

Meanwhile, there is a forecast operating deficit of £14m for the Clackmannanshire and Stirling Health and Social Care Partnership.

There are also doubts around the affordability of pay awards for 2024-25 and beyond while there are continuing inflationary pressures on the costs of goods and services.

The report added: “This undoubtedly reflects a very challenging situation as we look ahead to next year’s budget setting, especially when considered against the current context.”

Work is to already begin on the preparation of the next budget.

Budget challenge sessions at portfolio and council level are to take place before the summer recess as a result.

Following each budget challenge session, briefings will be held with elected members and trade union representatives.

A capital operations group, made up of the chief finance officer as well as directors and relevant officers, will meet every second month to oversee capital programme monitoring arrangements while refreshing the currently approved programme.

Monthly budget working group meetings have also been set up, starting this month, involving staff at the highest levels such as the chief executive, chief financial officer and strategic directors.

Council papers added: “In recent council briefings and council meetings, the council leader and chief executive have briefed councillors on political and managerial engagement to promote understanding, awareness and potential action with regards Clackmannanshire Council’s systemic and contextual challenges and how this relates the funding and distribution mechanism.

“This work continues with both COSLA and Scottish Government, following recent visits by the COSLA presidential team and the permanent secretary and Scottish Government directors to Clackmannanshire.”