A five per cent Council Tax increase, which is half the rate of inflation, will be put forward as part of budget plans for 2023/24 later this month.

The income generated from this will help manage a significant financial gap in Council budgets caused by inflation and allows frontline services to be protected while delivering investment in key community priorities. For a Band D property, the impact of the increase will be £1.24 a week.

A cross-party group of Councillors is currently finalising a single budget proposal, but a consensus has been reached about the Council Tax rise, which will be presented as part of the budget plan and voted on by all Councillors at a meeting on 23 February.

Further details of the budget proposals will be published next week, ahead of the meeting on 23 February.

A change allowed by the Scottish Government to how the debt associated with PPP contracts is accounted for may also support managing current and future financial pressures. For Scottish Borders Council, this relates to four secondary schools and the Jedburgh Grammar Campus.

Subject to agreement of Council on Thursday 16 February, this would see the debt repayments accounted for over a 50-year period for each asset, rather than the current much shorter PPP contractual period. There would be no change to the total contract payments made, or when they are made, however the accounting change permitted under new statutory guidance would free up funding on the Council’s balance sheet for the next 25 years.

Of the balance released, £9million would be used on a one-off basis to manage estimated financial gaps in the years 2023/24 to 2026/27. £3.5million would permanently contribute to closing the financial gap in 2023/24.

A further £20million is proposed to be allocated to a five-year change fund targeting new technology, service changes and cost reductions to ensure the Council remains financially sustainable while maintaining service standards.