Your Chance to Balance the Council’s Books

By Jane Cruickshank / September 17, 2019
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From Aberdeenshire Council communications team –

A new online tool has been launched today (17 Sept 2019), which will help the people of Aberdeenshire have their say on setting next year’s Council budget. 

It is difficult to understand the complexities of local government spending, where money comes from, the services we deliver based on increasing demand and limited budgets, and the role we play in the smooth running of Aberdeenshire. To help better paint that picture an online budget simulator has today been launched. 

Through the site Aberdeenshire residents can set their own budget for next year. They will be given a total amount to ‘spend’ (equal to the overall budget we expect to have for 2020/21) and will be asked to allocate that money to the services which are important to them. People completing the exercise can increase their total budget by adding income or raising Council Tax and will then be asked why they set the budget the way they did. 

The tool has also been developed to explain the impacts of their choices, i.e. if money was taken out of a service what that would mean in practice. With grant money reducing in real terms each year and the cost of delivering services going up, those taking part will have to identify where they would choose that compensating savings could be made if they want to give some services more money. 

The simulator will give individuals a voice in the budget setting process. The results of this exercise will be passed to all councillors so they can use the data as one strand in the budget setting process for the next financial year. 

It is hoped the tool will also give a richer understanding of the complexities of making a Council budget balance and the challenge facing officers and councillors every year.

Council Leader Cllr Jim Gifford said: “What makes this online tool so useful for us is that it will help the wider Aberdeenshire population make their views known around our budget discussions. When we meet later this year, and again in February, we will be faced with difficult decisions which we need to take in the interests of  Aberdeenshire as a whole. This simulator will help ensure that the voice of residents and businesses across Aberdeenshire can be part of that decision-making process.”  

Deputy Leader Cllr Peter Argyle said: “The best way to approach this tool is to treat it not as a Council budget setting tool, but as a way of setting your own budget. In local government we have a fundamental role to play delivering public services, but we spend money delivering services which are important to you. We are encouraging everyone to take part and set their own budget so that when we meet later in the year to start preparing for 2020/21 we can go into those discussions armed with this useful information.” 

In summary: 

  • You can take part in the exercise at this link: 
  • It will stay open for completion until 20th October 2019 
  • The results will be considered by Full Council in November to kick off the 2020/2021 budget discussions. 
  • Participants are encouraged to read the budget dilemma first, then take the challenge. 
  • Move the sliders under each service to allocate money accordingly. As you increase spend the total at the top will increase also, taking you either over or under budget. 
  • When you balance your budget, you will be alerted. 
  • Increase Council Tax or add investment opportunities if you want more money to spend in your overall total. 
  • A paper copy in which participants will be asked to prioritise the services which they would like to protect, increase or reduce spend will be available on request from any Aberdeenshire library.