The main increase in demand for services will come from a significant rise in older people which will put pressure on local council services, at a time when public spending is being squeezed to unprecedented levels.
Over the next 25 years West Lothian is forecast to have the fastest growth in population of pensionable age in Scotland with an increase of 44% - twice the Scottish average. In contrast, the council faces a budget gap of £47.1 million between 2023 and 2028 which is caused by rising costs, a rising population and insufficient amounts of funding from the Scottish Government - who provide the council with over 80% of its funding.
West Lothian Council is currently looking at ways to reduce spending and balance their budget - something the council is legally required to do. To read the council's budget reduction measures and to take part in the consultation, visit: West Lothian 2028 - Consultation
West Lothian's population challenges are set out here:
- West Lothian's older population (aged over 65) is set to rise by nearly a third between 2018 and 2028
- Over the next 25 years West Lothian is forecast to have the fastest growth in population of pensionable age in Scotland with an increase of 44% - twice the Scottish average
- Between 2018 and 2028, the number of people aged 75 and over in Scotland is predicted to increase by 25.4%. However, in West Lothian the number of people aged 75 and over will increase by nearly 39.4%
- Between 2018 and 2028, the number of people aged between 65 to 74 is predicted to increase by 14.4%. However, in West Lothian the number of people aged between 65 to 74 will increase by nearly 19.2%
- Between 2018 and 2028, the population of West Lothian is projected to increase from 182,140 to 192,812. This is an increase of 5.9%, which compares to a projected increase of 1.8% for Scotland as a whole
- In addition to an ageing population, West Lothian's school age population continues to require significant investment in education infrastructure to meet localised demand pressures. West Lothian is ranked 6th out of 32 local authorities in Scotland in terms of changes in under 16 population over the next 25 years
Around 80% of the council's budget is currently spent on health and social care and Education Services which are key priorities for the council.
Although developer contribution plays a significant part in helping to fund the physical expansion of school facilities, particularly in core development areas such as Calderwood, Winchburgh and Armadale, it is the increase in running costs for additional services such as school transport, meal provision and increasing staffing costs that places significant pressure on education infrastructure budgets.
With rising costs and insufficient future levels of funding expected, the council has launched a public consultation on a range of budget reduction measures, across all services, that are intended to reduce spending and which will alter some local services.
The measures have been developed by senior council officers.
Councillors will have a chance to consider the public feedback and make a final decision on the measures in early 2023.
Over the past 16 years (2007/08 to 2022/23), the local council has had to make savings of nearly £151 million due to insufficient levels of funding and spending pressures.
Donald Forrest, the council's Head of Finance and Property Services said:
"West Lothian faces unprecedented challenges in terms of funding local services in the near future.
"Generally speaking, as people get older, they require additional support and it is often more complex services that they require.
"The funding we receive from Government is not enough to pay for the expected increase in costs which means we need to reduce spending to enable us to balance our budget. After many years of insufficient levels of funding, the options available to us become more challenging and very difficult decisions lie ahead.
"I'd encourage local residents to take the time to complete the council's Your Council Your Say consultation.
"Improving the quality of life for older people and improving attainment and positive destinations for school children are amongst the council's priorities, which is why we invest so heavily in these service areas.
"However, cost increases and spending pressures are significantly higher than the funding we receive, which results in a budget gap for the council.
"Without additional funding, it is not possible to continue deliver all services as we currently provide them."
To read the budget reduction measures and to take part in the consultation: West Lothian 2028 - Consultation