EAST Renfrewshire Council’s financial affairs were managed within its operational budget last year, a report has revealed.

It found “early action in applying savings measures during 2018/19” helped the local authority to address the financial difficulties it faces.

Remaining within budget means transfers totalling £2.7million could be put into reserves.

A budget monitoring report submitted to the Council’s Cabinet in April forecast an underspend of around £1.6m for the year.

However, efforts to reduce expenditure continued and, at the year’s end, the underspend position improved to almost £4.1m.

“Reduced expenditure on payroll, procurement and utilities contributed to the underspend, together with increased recoveries of income, lower utilisation of contingency funds and savings on capital financing charges,” the report states.

Council leader Tony Buchanan said the report was testament to the hard work of council staff.

“The challenges are becoming more and more significant on a yearly basis,” he said, adding that the council needs to be prepared for “unknown aspects” in the future.

The Cabinet also agreed the Council’s annual efficiency statement for 2018/19, which saw more than £3m saved. It will be submitted to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

“The council continues to actively review opportunities for applying efficiency savings over the whole range of its services,” a report states, revealing “cash-releasing savings” of almost £3.4m.

The report shows the Council had a target of £4.4m of savings in 2018/19 and £9.3m of savings in 2019/20, with an expectation that at least £3m of these savings delivered through efficiencies, change and improvement.

It continues: “These savings are primarily a result of efforts to do more with less.”

Councillor Colm Merrick said the efficiencies were protecting the council against any further savings that might have to by made. “We aren’t taking money from services or cutting their funding, just doing them more efficiently,” he added.

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