Edinburgh unlocks record schools and housing investment with new three-year budget
The City of Edinburgh Council has paved the way for record investment in new low-carbon schools and affordable homes with the setting of a new three-year budget.
The council will make required savings of £35 million over the next 12 months and planned savings of around £87m over the next three years, while targeting spend and policies to be “fair on people and planet”.
In response to public consultation, the package of spending of over £1 billion forms part of the capital’s Change Strategy approved by councillors yesterday. It details six programmes with practical steps, each designed to prioritise the wellbeing and life chances of all residents and accelerate action to address climate change.
On housing, £2.5bn of investment has been unlocked to work with housing associations to provide more and better council homes as part of a longer-term commitment to construct 20,000 affordable new homes by 2027.
At the same time, the local authority will continue to invest in current council homes and services to reduce tenants’ living costs through initiatives to reduce energy costs and its carbon footprint.
Key sites will be redeveloped such as Granton Waterfront, which will receive around £196m in council funding to support the delivery of affordable, eco-friendly homes, attracting £450m additional public and private sector funding to create a vibrant and inclusive coastal community
Additional funding of £2m will also provide more appropriate temporary accommodation whilst enhancing early intervention and prevention initiatives.
On schools, through raising Council Tax by 4.79%, the council will generate more than £16m of extra funding over three years to invest in key priorities including supporting the delivery of new or refurbished Wave Four schools, providing communities in Balerno, Currie, Liberton, Trinity and Wester Hailes with new and upgraded schools.
A total of £77m will be spent on Early Years services, providing 1,140 hours of funded Early Learning and Childcare provision for all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds by August 2020.
Elsewhere, £9.5m will be spent to complete Edinburgh’s new Meadowbank sports centre and the council will continue plans to attain net-zero carbon city status by 2030 in the face of a climate emergency.
It will contribute £29.5m into a Zero Waste treatment centre at Millerhill which will supply power to more than 30,000 homes across the Edinburgh region, spend £10.7m to complete the conversion of Edinburgh’s 64,000 streetlights to LED lights and continue work to complete the extension of the tram network to Newhaven, with no additional call on core council budgets.
The council will also action plans to invest £17.8m over ten years towards cycling projects and £123m towards improving roads and pavements, as well as substantial repairs and maintenance expenditure as part of the revenue budget.
Council leader Cllr Adam McVey said: “We’ve agreed a bold budget which protects the most vulnerable in society and guarantees a fairer quality of life for future generations. It prioritises those council services which work to help those who are most in need of our support - protecting our young people, our communities and our planet in the process.
“In the face of growth and a global climate emergency, we’ve outlined plans for the biggest investment ever to be made into new, sustainable and affordable homes in Edinburgh.
“The people of Edinburgh have told us they want their city to be sustainable, to be fair and for frontline services to be protected. That is what we are delivering with a budget which invests in the services our city needs. I’d like to thank fellow councillors for standing up for a plan which is fair and sustainable.”
Cllr Cammy Day, depute leader, said: “The plans passed today support new schools, sustainability and the regeneration of this city and I’m pleased we’ve been able to – yet again – agree a balanced budget, despite the ongoing financial uncertainty we and all local authorities face. This forward-thinking approach will provide much greater certainty to residents, to workers and to partners right across the city and will help us tackle poverty in all its forms.
“Under today’s budget, this council is committing to do all that we can with the resources we have to improve residents’ lives and protect those services which are vital to our most vulnerable citizens. This will be supported by the thousands of new, affordable homes we’ll help to build and the community regeneration we’ve pledged to deliver. For too long we’ve turned our back on our fantastic waterfronts and this budget plan will allow us to move forward with our plans to regenerate Granton, providing new homes and a fantastic community for people to work and visit.”