Since the Council published its first 5-year business plan in 2019, our ambition to make the Falkirk area 'The Place to be - where everyone can fulfil their full potential' has not changed, but our landscape has because of the pandemic.

Those disadvantaged before COVID-19 now face even greater difficulties. Local businesses that form the backbone of our economy remain financially fragile.

For the council itself, service demand pressures, increased costs and a significant drop in income mean we face a scale of financial challenge never seen before.

As an organisation, if we are to help the area recover and become more resilient, we cannot underestimate the economic, environmental and community challenges we now face.

Best Value

Our Best Value Assurance Report also recognised this and has given us nine recommendations to help make the leadership, business and cultural changes needed to become a better performing and financially sustainable council.

Over the next year we will undertake work through the 'Falkirk '22 Delivering Best Value’ plan to strengthen processes and ways of working that will help us transform.

This includes creating an environment where leaders work more collaboratively and feel empowered to make hard decisions.

Opportunity

Despite the challenges of the past two years, we have made progress. We have changed how we work, sped up our digital transformation, and strengthened relationships with communities and partners.

In large, this has been accomplished through our change programme, Council of the Future.

As we move into the next phase of recovery, we must continue to embrace change through the programme and work with communities and businesses to help them seek out and seize opportunities that emerge and build resilience for tomorrow.

We will do this through various means, most notably through the progression of the 11 projects established as part of our Growth Deal, which is expected to help create up to 2,000 jobs and attract £1bn worth of future investment to the area.

We will also place much greater emphasis on creating a sustainable future, working with employees, communities, and businesses to drive forward our roadmap to become net carbon zero by 2030.

Direction

This interim business plan will keep us on track until a new Council is in sitting. We will then create a new corporate plan and business plan to deliver it.

Until then, this plan will ensure we stay focused on what matters most – delivering on our current priorities and making long-lasting change happen, whilst addressing the severe financial challenge that we face.