BOSSES at Scottish Borders Council are facing a £30 million funding gap over the next five years.

And officers are wanting to hike up council tax in a bid to balance the books.

Local authority leader Shona Haslam revealed the challenges that lie ahead during a briefing on Monday.

She said: “There is no denying it is very difficult to balance the books every year especially when we have increased demand for services, an increasing older population and services spread across such a vast rural area.

“We are currently looking at delivering savings of over £5 million every year for the next five years.

"That’s not going to be easy, so we need to consider where we spend money, how we do things differently and what we simply can’t deliver any more."

SBC imposed a four percent rise in council tax payments this year to cover the cost of fixing roads and pavements as well as accelerating the replacement of Hawick High School.

But proposals being put forward suggest further three percent increases for each of the next five years

MP John Lamont told us: "The situations is so serious that council officials are pushing for council tax to rise significantly each year for the next five years."

As well as revealing the extent of savings to be made, this week's briefing was also used to launch a public consultation into spending priorities.

Between now and the end of January, a new online points simulator tool will be available for Borderers to become involved.

Councillor Haslam added: “The online tool we are launching will help us to understand where people in the Borders would like services protected in their own area, and will also help us to have ongoing conversations in communities about how we can do things differently and/or where there are opportunities for communities to play their part.

“We remain committed to delivering high quality services for all our residents, from the youngest to the oldest, as well as making the most of the opportunities that the Borders has.

" It is not all about cost cutting, it also means investing carefully and delivering a range of projects that support and enhance services, our towns and villages.”

The consultation tool gives people the chance to use sliders to allocate points according to how they prioritise services in their area.

The points available are limited like council funds.

The results of the consultation will be considered as part of the budget setting process.

Councillor Robin Tatler, who is responsible for Finance at Newtown St Boswells, added: “Given the challenges, we need to do things differently so it is vital that we get residents’ views on how where they would prioritise things that matter to them in their area. This does not necessarily mean we will put more money into these areas but it certainly means that we would consider protecting them."

The online budget consultation tool is available at