The Revenue Budget covers the council's day-to-day expenditure and includes the cost of running services. That includes schools, social care, operational services - such as waste, roads and parks, winter and grounds maintenance - and a raft of other essential functions.
80% of the council's total Revenue Budget is funded from Scottish Government grant with the remaining 20% being generated via Council Tax. A Council Tax increase of 5.8% for all bands has been approved for 2023/24, which is below the current rate of inflation. Council Tax rates in West Lothian will remain below the Scottish average.
The 5.8% increase will generate income of £5.431 million that will be spent on delivering, protecting and improving local services in West Lothian and will help to prevent a number of proposed service savings measures being implemented. There are discounts and exemptions in place to reduce Council Tax for the most vulnerable in society, including the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
At a glance: Where the council's budget is spent
Approximately 80% of the council's total revenue budget will be spent on three priority areas, Education, Social Care and Operational Services.
- Education will continue to see the largest single investment with £218.5 million being spent next year. Over the last five-years the council has continued to improve literacy and numeracy for young people and West Lothian has had 11 successive years of improvement in exam performance.
- Over £131 million will be invested in Social Policy (with the majority of the funding delegated to the Integration Joint Board) which includes social work, care at home, care for vulnerable people and care homes.
- Nearly £62.1million will be spent in Operational Services - which covers many vital local services such as roads, waste disposal, parks, maintenance of open spaces, flood prevention, community transport, subsidies for public transport, recycling centres and street cleansing/facilities management, which includes janitorial, cleaning and catering staff.
The council has also agreed a five-year revenue budget strategy and a detailed revenue budget for the next three-years which includes savings measures that will allow the council to balance its budget.
Leader of West Lothian Council, Councillor Lawrence Fitzpatrick said:
"The council will continue to provide a huge range of quality services and our investment in local services will benefit every single resident in West Lothian."
"West Lothian has experienced sustained cuts to our funding since 2007 and we have had to make savings of £150 million. We are now faced with further reductions of over £43 million and that means some difficult decisions are unavoidable.
"However, it is our priority to support people who are in greatest need, which is why we have targeted support across a wide range of measures that will help people through difficult times."
Other areas of council investment include:
- £580,000 of additional funding for Additional Support Needs (ASN) transport
- investment to meet an increase in the cost of complex care for a rapidly growing elderly population
- additional welfare and financial support
- support for looked after children and vulnerable adults
- significant investment to support growth and job creation
- investment to tackle poverty
- additional prevention work to tackle homelessness
At a glance: Why does the council face a budget gap?
The economic climate over the next few years will continue to be extremely challenging.
The council have significant and sustained budget pressures caused by increasing costs and a growing population, which is combined with insufficient levels of Scottish Government grant funding. The Scottish Government provides the council with 80% of its budget and grant from the Government is expected to be less than required for the council to deliver essential local services. This results in a budget gap. The council has to reduce spending and change some local services as they are legally required to close the budget gap and balance their budget.
Over the next five years the council estimate that they will have to make savings of approximately £39.4 million pounds with £15.5 million of savings required in 2023/24.
The council is legally required to balance its budget - therefore the council must make savings.
A number of budget saving measures have been approved which will allow the council to balance its budget. Savings measures overall will be implemented over the next five years with some measures being implemented from April 2023.
At a glance: Approved budget saving measures
A number of budget saving measures have been approved. For a full list of all budget savings, please read the Revenue Budget paper (PDF) [1MB] (opens new window) (appendix 3). include link to Revenue Budget paper.
Here are some of the budget saving measures that have been approved:
- Considering where numbers of community centres could be reduced with minimum impact on local communities
- Removal of the concessionary rail scheme
- Closure of the animal attraction at Beecraigs Country Park
- Reduced winter maintenance service whilst maintaining the statutory obligations
- Revised community recycling centre opening hours (all sites will remain open)
- Changes and reductions to management structures and internal workforce changes
- Continue breakfast club provision but realign and match the level of service with the funding received from the Scottish Government
- Continue Instrumental Music provision but realign and match the level of tuition with the funding received from the Scottish Government
- Support West Lothian Leisure to become fully self-funded with no requirement for a management fee from the council
- Reduction in energy savings (heating, renewables and swimming pools
- Closure of seven automated public toilets and other property budget savings (the toilets at Livingston South Station, Bathgate Acredale, Broxburn and Linlithgow Water Yett will remain open and the other seven will close)
The council's budget savings measures also include changes that will reduce staff numbers. Although some areas of the council will see growth, overall staffing numbers are expected to reduce by approximately 41 (Full time equivalent) over the next three years.
Officer proposals that have not been agreed
A motion was agreed by the council which means that a number of proposed budget saving measures originally proposed will now not be implemented. The income generated from the increase in Council Tax will be used to help protect these services and allow the council to fund these services in future.
These services will therefore continue to be provided:
- subsidised bus & demand responsive transport
- Mainstream school transport
- street crossing patrol
- festive lighting
- free garden (brown) waste collection
- standalone libraries
- Four automated public toilets (see above details)
The motion approved by the council also asked council officers carry out a comprehensive review of all council funded transport services including subsidised bus transport, demand responsiveness transport and mainstream transport.
At a glance - Council Tax
A Council Tax increase of 5.8% for all bands has been approved for 2023/24, which is below the current rate of inflation.
This equates to an extra £1.47 per week for a band D property. If Council Tax had been frozen in 2023/24, the council would have had to reduce spending on local services further and this would have had further implications for future years.
The 5.8% increase will generate income of £5.431 million in 2023/24 that will be spent on delivering, protecting and improving local services in West Lothian and will help to prevent a number of proposed service savings measures being implemented.
There are discounts and exemptions in place to reduce Council Tax for the most vulnerable in society, including the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
Council Tax levels will be kept under review for 2024/25 and 2025/26.
Council Tax Band
Council Tax 2022/23
Council Tax 2023/24 5.8%
Councillor Fitzpatrick added "Officers presented a wide range of proposals for elected members to consider and I'm pleased that we are able to continue to provide a number of key services, and avoid reductions in school transport provision and avoid the need to remove subsidies for local public transport. School crossing patrols and festive lighting will also remain in place.
"This budget will also allow standalone libraries to remain open and brown bin collections will continue without any charging.
"These are the types of difficult decisions that are being faced by councils across Scotland, such is the scale of the insufficient levels of local government funding from the Scottish Government.
"We will continually strive to protect and improve our communities and local services. I hope people understand the scale of the funding pressures we face and, like any household, we can only spend the money that we have. We believe that we have agreed the best possible budget within the resources made available to us."
He added: "We will continue to keep Council Tax levels under review and will aim to lower the percentage increase in future years if circumstances allow. The truth is, given the insufficient levels of Scottish Government funding, Council Tax income allows us to fund local services that matter to local people and, without it, services such as public transport subsidies, school transport and libraries - would be not be available and this is being seen across Scotland."