On 18 February 2021, Elected Members of the City of Edinburgh Council approved, at their Annual Budget, that over £1 billion be spent in the Budget in the next year to deliver services across communities in Edinburgh. This is the first Budget published since we set out our Calls to Action last year and it is encouraging to note that poverty is a key issue for the local authority.
At this meeting, Councillors also approved a three-year Business Plan, Our Future Council, Our Future City, setting out how the local authority will respond to the need for change. This Plan has a core focus to tackle poverty and inequality, boost sustainability, and enhance wellbeing in response to the city recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The End Poverty in Edinburgh Delivery Plan 2020-30 published at the end of last year has driven priorities for reducing poverty in this Business Plan with key outcomes being recognised including developing new prevention models, delivering affordable housing, and addressing the city’s attainment gap.
Across the Budget, there is strong evidence of cross-party support for poverty and homelessness prevention measures as demonstrated by proposed motions from Elected Members calling for relevant investments in this area.
This blog reviews the main headlines agreed across three broad themes in the Budget – Housing & Homelessness, Advice, Fair Work & Wellbeing, and Education. Going forward it will be necessary to examine full details as to how this finance will be spent, particularly around resourcing culture change and support for innovation in prevention.
Furthermore, it is worth highlighting that it was agreed that Council Tax be frozen at current rates for 2021/22, and that the Council’s 20,000 tenants will pay the same rents next year due to a combined amendment from the Conservative, Green and Liberal Democrat groups.
Housing & Homelessness
- A one-year freeze on rents for Council Housing tenants.
- £2.8 billion ten-year Housing Revenue Account Capital investment programme to deliver Council commitments, including the delivery of 10,000 new Council-led affordable homes by 2027, the modernisation of existing homes and the commitment to deliver zero carbon emissions by 2030.
- Investing an additional £10 million to provide temporary accommodation to address the ongoing impacts of responding to the pandemic.
- £400,000 in homelessness prevention and to support those experiencing homelessness into secure tenancies
- £250,000 on setting up a short-term let licensing and enforcement system to control the number of dwellings being converted from private homes to the holiday lets market.
- Almost £30 million for people who need help paying their Council Tax.
Advice, Fair Work & Wellbeing
- £1 million investment in income maximisation and crisis support through expanding Maximise!, doubling the capacity of the Discover holiday hunger programme, creating a new discretionary crisis fund to supplement the Scottish Welfare Fund, and providing some resource for continuation of food crisis support post-March.
- £175,000 to support the rollout and expansion of Edinburgh Guarantee for All.
- £110,000 to expand the Council’s support team in strengthening its role as corporate parents to meet the needs of looked after children, young people and care leavers.
- Green spaces including parks, playparks, food growing initiatives, and urban forests will receive £500,000 with an additional £4 million of related capital investment.
- £82 million on early years services with a commitment of 1,140 hours of funded early learning and childcare by August 2021.
- £3.6 million to improve pupil attainment, achievement and attendance, as well as £7 million from Scottish Government Pupil Equity Funding.
- £0.8 million for clothing grants.
- Providing free school meals to almost 7,700 pupils and all pupils in P1 to P3.
Photo: The City Chambers Edinburgh, cc-by-sa/2.0 © Ronnie Leask – geograph.org.uk/p/989163