The cost of living crisis is the biggest risk facing South Ayrshire Council and the local community, a report has revealed.

Every six months, council bosses update their register of issues that pose the greatest risk to the authority.

The cost of living crisis has only just been added to the Strategic Risk Register, but it is the first to be placed in the highest ‘red’ category – where there is both an increased likelihood of the issue impacting the council and that impact being significant.

The remaining 14 risks identified, including the spread of Ash Dieback, climate change and workforce planning, are in the middle ‘yellow’ category.

None of the identified risks are in the lowest risk category.

On Wednesday, March 22, the Audit and Governance Panel will hear why the council has assessed the crisis as the highest risk.

The report to panel states: “There is a significant risk that the cost of living crisis, rising inflation and the current economic climate is having a detrimental impact on the local community, both public and employees.”

Rising energy and food costs, economic uncertainty and the ongoing war in Ukraine are the reasons given for the crisis.

The report continues: “Specific low-income groups are hardest hit.

“The current crisis is bringing unaccustomed hardships to groups who have

previously managed financially.”

It adds that the impact is being felt by the lowest paid council staff and outlines what the council is doing to tackle the crisis, including the development of a information campaign, which will provide residents with information on how to get support.

The council also says it working on a range of local initiatives, such as community larders, food delivery, lunch clubs, warm  spaces, money advice, support to energy ‘inefficient’ households, business grants and considering options to supplement existing Scottish Government support.

It also lists a range of measures from the UK and Scottish Governments, including:

Energy price guarantee (UK Government)

Increase in Scottish Child Payment (Scottish Government)

Winter heating payments (Scottish Government)

Rent freeze (Scottish Government)

Protections for tenants and landlords (Scottish Government)

The report continues: “It has also been considered appropriate to specifically include risk management arrangements around the cost of living crisis due to the impact this has on both South Ayrshire communities and employees.

“Chief Officers regularly consider new or emerging risks and there is a process whereby significant operational risks, managed at directorate level, can be elevated to strategic level as required.”

It also assures councillors that ‘there is a robust system in place for identifying and managing those threats which could have a significant impact on the successful delivery of the council’s objectives’.