A BUDGET simulator could see residents given a greater say in how Argyll and Bute Council sets its spending in the 2024/25 financial year.

A report has revealed plans for the authority to use the online simulator, which allows users to put together their own theoretical budget, between Monday, June 19 and Friday, August 11.

The council is currently forecasting a budget gap of £6.7million in 2024/25, the final budget for which will be set in February 2024.

The report will go before the authority’s policy and resources committee at its meeting on Thursday, May 11.

Executive director Kirsty Flanagan said: “The council is facing a challenging budget gap and in order to bridge this gap Service reductions are inevitable which in turn affects our communities.

“A budget simulator has been created which will allow the public to engage with the council and understand potential implications of budget decisions at a high level.

“The budget simulator is presented at activity level and allows the user to reduce spending across each area, and also includes narrative explaining the consequences of the choices made.

“There is also a section on income generation, including council tax, where the user can indicate whether they would be willing to pay more council tax in order to minimise reductions to council services.

“The user must achieve a ‘balanced budget’ upon completion of the simulator. This consultation will not only assist officers and members when looking at budget options but will also assist the community in understanding the difficult choices the council faces with continued real term settlement reductions from Scottish Government.

“Once all data has been uploaded into the budget simulator it is the intention to hold a members’ seminar and also have a focus group to test the simulator, prior to it going live on June 19.”

It is also recommended that a budget working group of councillors, which has operated for the last three years, is continued to set next year’s budget.