26 January
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The proposals have been developed by council officers in order to enable the council to set a balanced budget.

Following the Scottish Government's 2023/24 Scottish Budget and Local Government Finance Settlement it has been confirmed that West Lothian Council has an estimated budget gap of £47.6 million over the next five years.

The council's Your Council Your Say consultation programme - which was launched last year - provided residents and local groups with an opportunity to feedback on a number of proposals that aim to alter local services and address the council's significant budget gap. The consultation which received in excess of 7,600 responses and over 22,800 comments sought the views of local residents, staff and partners on the future direction of the council and on specific officer budget proposals. It also sought to inform the level of future council tax increases.

Special Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel (PDSP) meetings will take place between 26 - 31 January to provide councillors and community representatives the opportunity to scrutinise and question these proposals, in advance of the budget being agreed, by the council next month. The PDSPs also allow members to view the consultation responses from the recent Your Council Your Say consultation programme.

The proposals, if agreed, will change the services that the council provides in future.

Some of the draft budget measures would also impact on staffing levels over the next five years.  

The council will look to agree its budget on 21 February 2023, which will include a five-year Financial Plan, a three-year detailed revenue budget, and agreement of council tax levels. The council will also look to agree a Capital Investment Strategy and a Corporate Plan. 

COSLA - the umbrella body for all Scottish councils requested £1billion extra funding for Scottish councils to avoid massive cuts. The figure provided by the Scottish Government for core local services is £38million and COSLA has since warned that all Councils are left at real financial risk for the coming year, and it will be the people of Scotland and our communities who suffer as a result.

Graham Hope, West Lothian Council's Chief Executive said:

"We have been very open and clear with local residents and partner organisations that there is little doubt that local services will have to change in the face of such stark reductions in our budget.

"Whilst we still have a significant budget to deliver key services, there will be significantly less money to spend on local services, initiatives and programmes. It is simply not possible to continue all existing services with the budget we will have available to us.

"Nobody wants to have to make reductions to local services but, by law, the council must set a balanced budget. We are faced with reducing some services so that the council is financially sustainable in the years ahead.

"In preparation for the challenges ahead, we are working with our communities and partners in shaping the future of local services in West Lothian. We are very grateful for the feedback we have received to date and I'd like to thank all those that have taken the time to take part in the consultation to date."