The budget plans agreed by Dumfries and Galloway Council will “change Dumfries and Galloway for the better” according to its leader.
The proposals agreed include a commitment to deliver Dumfries and Galloway’s first ever anti-poverty strategy - backed up by a £1m per year anti- poverty fund and proposals to work with the council’s contractors to roll out the Living Wage across the region.
Since the draft budget plans were published in December, additional proposals have been included in the final budget including a new Taxicard scheme, the introduction of Family Centres and School based Social workers, a School Transport Contingency fund and extra help for dementia sufferers.
In addition the budget set aside a £500,000 contingency fund to support the implementation of the Supporting Learners Service Review outcomes agreed in November. The fund will be used to address any unexpected shortfalls in provision which may arise.
Over and above this a recurring budget of £500,000 in 2016/17 increasing to £1m from 2017/18 was agreed to reduce savings both within the Supporting Learners review and the Primary and Secondary School delivery review.
The application of this provision will be subject to consideration by the Education Committee.
The Council Administration has also pledged to find additional savings across the council over the next two years to re-direct into supporting the best outcomes for young people particularly the most vulnerable.
The agreed budget included a ‘A Youth Guarantee for DG’ that every young person in Dumfries and Galloway will be guaranteed a place in education, or training or a job. The guarantee will see £3.5m a year invested in opportunities for young people to drive down youth unemployment in the region.
Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council Ronnie Nicholson said: “When I became Council Leader I said building the local economy will be our number one priority not just for the sake of it, but to ensure we provide the best possible opportunities for our young people. I am therefore delighted that our plans for the single biggest ever investment to end youth unemployment in Dumfries and Galloway have been agreed.
The Labour Group draft budget for the next three years proposes to increase funding for school buildings across the region from the baseline figure £4.25m per year to £5m per year by 2017/18 with further provisional increases in future years.
It was agreed to increase the previous roads budget allocation from 2015/16 onward for Infrastructure by £500,000 to be used for the Strategic Roads Programme, taken the capital budget to £9m a year for infrastructure.
There will also be an extra £400,000 towards the Stranraer Townscape Heritage Initiative- taking the full allocation to £1m.