THE cost of living crisis and particularly "through the roof" energy prices pose a huge challenge for Fife Council in trying to balance the books.

Council leader David Ross said that bills for everything from running bin lorries through to building new schools and filling potholes are rising all the time.

He highlighted that a gas-heated high school in Fife paid, on average, just under £150,000 in total for electricity and gas in 2021-22.

In 2023-24 that's projected to rocket to around £280,000.

For a gas-heated primary school, the figures for electricity and gas are just under £50,000 for 2021-22 and £100,000 for 2023-24.

Fife have 145 primary schools – 29 are electrically heated, but bills are still expected to almost double to around £80,000 – and 18 high schools, three have electric heating, as well as six special schools.

Cllr Ross said that the council are expecting a 59 per cent increase in schools annual electricity costs alone.

Pointing to other areas, the council said the average bin lorry running cost has gone up by 12 per cent to over £59,000. And they have 30 lorries.

The cost of road material – used for filling those potholes – has shot up by 45 per cent while transport, fuel, vehicle and plant hire costs have also increased by 15 per cent.

That puts huge strain on the budget as Fife has more than 2,500km of roads to be maintained.

Elaine Muir, head of finance at Fife Council, said inflation had been a "game changer" and that, even if Labour's budget proposals for next year were agreed, they'd still be facing an estimated budget gap of £33m for 2024-25.