Martin Ford 06 August 2019

Council warned to reduce or replace property portfolio by auditors

A council has been warned by auditors that it is running out of time to curb its expenditure.

Audit Scotland found Moray Council faces funding gaps of £12m in 2020/21 and £7.1m in 2021/22, with education and children’s services accounting for nearly half of its net expenditure.

Although an improvement and modernisation programme is under development to transform the two service areas, progress has been 'slower than expected,' according to the watchdog’s report.

The report added: ‘Members have limited time to make the difficult decisions required to achieve financial sustainability before available reserves run out.’

Moray said it has proposed to strengthen its support for transformational change and was reviewing children’s services contracts.

It added: ‘It is recognised that the timescale for transformational change in these areas is very challenging.’

Audit Scotland also highlighted that a £142m investment was required to bring its schools estate up to a satisfactory standard.

The report read: ‘The council cannot afford this level of investment and so must reduce, replace and reconfigure its property portfolio if it is to protect frontline services and deliver sustainable schools for the future.’

Moray has used reserves to fund additional staff costs to complete a review of corporate buildings by the end of March 2020 in the hope of realising recurring savings of £200,000 in revenue and £250,000 in capital funds.

Photo: Tom Parnell / flickr

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