SENIOR councillors can go back to the budget drawing board after more cash than expected was sent down the road from Holyrood.

But significant cuts can still be expected when the local authority's own budget is announced early in the new year.

Scottish Borders Council had been bracing itself for a three per cent reduction in its Government revenue settlement - cash used to pay for the day-to-day running of services.

Officers and ruling administration councillors had spent the past few months working out where £13.46 million of savings could be found.

But Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced on December 14 that almost £4 million more of revenue funding than anticipated would be made available for the region's local authority.

This week councillors met to be briefed on the 2018/19 Local Government Finance Settlement.

David Robertson, chief financial officer at Scottish Borders Council, said: "The council was - prior to December 14 - planning for a three per cent reduction in general revenue grant in 2018/19.

"Following the announcement on December 14, this assumption has been revised to a 1.5 per cent reduction in core general revenue grant after adjusting for ring-fenced and specific grants."

Scottish Borders Council has been allocated £199.095 million of revenue funding from the Scottish Government.

An additional £7.188 million will also be delivered to Newtown St Boswells via the health board for integrated health and social care.

But the local authority chiefs will still have to find more than £9 million in savings from last year during 2018/19.

And its capital grant issued by Holyrood, which is used to fund improvement projects, is around £1 million less than expected, with a secondary blow coming with the announcement that a further grant capital payment of £1.4 million is being delayed until the following year.

This week's full meeting of Scottish Borders Council was told that there was room for adjustments to be made in calculations ahead of the local authority's own budget being announced in February.

But Mr Robertson, who heads up the Corporate Management Team, is advising that diligence should continue despite the additional revenue.

He added: "The Corporate Management Team will continue to work with political groups to shape their budget proposals following the settlement announcement.

"While the flexibility provided by the settlement is welcome, members are reminded that the council should be planning for the longer term and be investing where possible in spend to save initiatives to help with longer term sustainability.

"Any headroom that can be created in the budget through the early delivery of savings will therefore help to meet future projected funding gaps."

Ahead of the budget announcement in February, senior councillors will have to calculate into their spending proposals an indicative pay increase for staff of up to three per cent, non-domestic rates pressures and increased demand for health and social care.

Council leader Shona Haslam admits balancing the books is still going to be tough - despite the additional cash.

She said: "Just because the news is not as bad as we think, that does not mean that it is good news.

“We continue to be faced with a challenging financial situation.

"However we have been planning for this well in advance.

“This budget settlement represents a significant cut in our revenue budget and an even larger cut on our capital budget. Money that we rely on to deliver essential services.

“However as a council we will continue to look at all of our options while being mindful of the pressures that households in the Border continue to face.”

During the budget discussions at Newtown St Boswells, senior councillors have asked for the public's input.

And spokesman for finance, Councillor George Turnbull, claims the authority is still all ears.

He told us: "We are continuing to work very closely with officers at Scottish Borders Council on our budget proposals which will be put forward for agreement in February 2018.

“Between now and then, it is very important that members of the public continue to submit their views and ideas to us about our budget."

An online discussion on the budget priorities is avaialble on the Scottish Borders Council website at