Action call over £27 million council funding black hole

A Scottish Council has been warned it is not doing enough to meet a looming £27 million black hole in its finances.

East Dunbartonshire Council is facing a £27m 'black hole'

East Dunbartonshire Council has been told it must now “up its game” by public spending chiefs.

There have already been “significant reductions” in the authority’s workforce in recent years as it comes to terms with hardline funding reductions and seeks savings. But a “transformation programme” to deliver savings and changes in the way it provides services remains behind schedule in many areas, a report by Audit Scotland for the Accounts Commission today finds.

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It must be addressed if the council is to find £27.6m in savings over the next three years.

Accounts Commission chair Douglas Sinclair said: “All councils face future funding gaps and are having to make radical changes in how services are provided. East Dunbartonshire needs to significantly up its game to deliver on its ambitions.”

East Dunbartonshire Council has made some improvements but issues identified in two previous reports had not been adequately addressed, the report adds.

“It is now looking to make significant savings by sharing services with neighbouring councils, although at this early stage the level of anticipated savings is not clear,” the report states.

And although moves have been made to reshape the “size and roles” of its workforce, it has not been clearly stated how this will deliver on its priorities.

“The council needs to improve the pace of change, and to effectively monitor and review progress of its improvement activities, if it is to meet its anticipated savings target of £27.6m over the next three years,” the report adds.

But council leader Rhonda Geekie said she was disappointed by the concerns highlighted by the Commission report.

She said about £40m had been saved by the authority in the past eight years and insisted there is an “alternative” to cutting services.

She added; “Our ambitious transformational approach is the only way to achieve the unprecedented further savings we face whilst maintaining maximum service delivery to our residents.”