Falkirk Council improving, but faces significant financial challenge

Falkirk Council has made significant improvements over the last two years to how it works. Now it must focus on tackling a £62 million budget gap.

In a new report, the Accounts Commission highlights improvements in how the council works together, in setting a clear vision and driving forward progress in educational attainment and reducing inequalities.

The Accounts Commission warns, however, that services could be put at risk if the council fails to significantly change how it works and delivers services. With a budget gap of £62 million, it is not sustainable to continue relying on one-off savings. The council must deliver on its ambitions to transform how it operates and provides local services, realising longer-term financial savings and efficiencies.

Councillors and officers have greatly improved how they work together. This must continue, as they will have to make and communicate difficult decisions about what services the council can afford to continue delivering. Talking to communities, ensuring they feel involved and listened to, is vital. This ensures the council continues to focus on the needs of local people.

Jo Armstrong, Chair of the Accounts Commission said:

Falkirk Council, like all other councils in Scotland, faces significant financial challenges. Delivering services in the same way with less money won’t work. Given the scale of financial savings needed, it must make real transformations in how it works and delivers services.

The council has an excellent approach to reporting how services are performing. Now it must harness this information to drive improvements and address services that are underperforming, particularly delivering stronger, healthier communities. Falkirk Council must take note of the Accounts Commission’s findings which are there to encourage and provide momentum to support the council to make changes that are increasingly urgent.