East Ayrshire Council is preparing for a £7 million funding gap in the year ahead.

The local authority is preparing to launch its budget consultation for 2024/25, against a backdrop of rising costs for delivering public services, as well as the funding gap.

Residents, businesses and communities are now being invited to have their say on the council’s budget priorities, by taking part in a series of in-person events and an online survey.

This year’s budget consultation opens today, November 14 and will run four weeks until Friday, December 15, 2023 and considers the current priorities as set out in the council’s strategic plan.

This includes: building a fairer economy; tackling poverty and inequality; improving community wellbeing; supporting children and young people; delivering a Clean Green East Ayrshire and ensuring financial sustainability and resilience.

Local community consultation events will also take place.

These will take place between 6.30pm and 8pm each night on:

  • Tuesday, November 21 at Stewarton Annick Youth and Community Centre
  • Thursday, November 23 at Howard Centre, Kilmarnock
  • Monday, November 27 at Dalmellington Community Centre
  • Tuesday, December 5 at Boswell Centre, Auchinleck
  • Thursday, December 14 ar Morton Hall, Newmilns

 Speaking about the pressures, East Ayrshire Council Chief Executive Eddie Fraser said: “The council has a vital role in supporting local people and communities, but just like household budgets, the council is experiencing significant increases in the cost of energy, goods and services, coupled with an increased demand for the services and an aging population.

“We are continuing to maximise efficiencies and reduce costs by redesigning how we deliver our services, but this is becoming increasingly difficult and we are going to have to make difficult decisions about how resources are allocated and what services are prioritised in the future. 

“We recognise the important role that local people, our communities and partners have to play in shaping these decisions.

"We need to prioritise services and budgets more than ever and the decisions that we need to make will affect the services that people rely on. We want to hear from local people so that we can do everything we can to reduce that impact."

Cumnock Chronicle: East Ayrshire Council Chief Executive Eddie FraserEast Ayrshire Council Chief Executive Eddie Fraser (Image: East Ayrshire Council)

Mr Fraser added: “As a council we have an ‘always on’ approach to consultation and engagement and welcome feedback as part of our routine service delivery.

"But, for the first time since the pandemic, we are taking to the road and bringing the budget consultation process directly to our communities, with a series of in-person events taking place, hosted by members of the council’s management team. 

"Our communities are at the heart of everything we do and we look forward to hearing what they have to say.”