Cash mis­ery

Coun­cil face prospect of find­ing £51m in bud­get cuts next year

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Dou­glas Dickie

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil has been given an un­wanted Christ­mas present - £21mil­lion of ad­di­tional cuts from the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment.

The author­ity is now thought to be fac­ing the daunt­ing prospect of hav­ing to slash £51m from its pro­posed bud­get for 2016/17.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment have handed South La­nark­shire Coun­cil an un­wanted Christ­mas present - £21mil­lion of ad­di­tional cuts.

That was the view this week from coun­cil leader Ed­die McAvoy.

The author­ity is now thought to be fac­ing the prospect of slash­ing £51m from its bud­get for 2016/17.

Coun­cil­lor McAvoy de­scribed last week’s Scot­tish bud­get as “truly bru­tal” for lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

Of­fi­cers have al­ready pre­pared a pack­age for £36m of cuts, in­clud­ing over 400 job losses, which is cur­rently be­ing con­sid­ered by mem­bers, but they will have to get back round the ta­ble to thrash out a new plan.

Al­though no dis­cus­sions will take place un­til Jan­uary, it is un­der­stood an­other 250 jobs could be un­der threat.

The coun­cil is re­quired to have a bal­anced bud­get by the start of the new fi­nan­cial year or the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment will set it for them.

Coun­cil­lor McAvoy said: “This has been a truly bru­tal bud­get for coun­cils, and that’s ter­ri­ble news for the mil­lions of Scots who rely on us for their vi­tal ser­vices, from tak­ing care of the el­derly to ed­u­cat­ing chil­dren.

“John Swin­ney could have stood with coun­cils to pro­tect pub­lic ser­vices. In­stead, he has de­liv­ered a level of aus­ter­ity even the Tories would have baulked at.

“The facts are clear – the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has been given a cash in­crease from West­min­ster for next year but it has cut the amount it passes on for lo­cal author­ity rev­enue bud­gets by 3.5 per cent . Make no mis­take, this was an aus­ter­ity bud­get which was signed, sealed and de­liv­ered in Scot­land by the SNP, and it is or­di­nary Scots who will pay the price.

“We have not seen the fine print of the bud­get yet, but the pain caused by Mr Swin­ney will cer­tainly be felt in South La­nark­shire. Our gov­ern­ment grant will fall next year by £21m more than the worst sce­nario we had pre­vi­ously feared.

“That means we will have to go back to the coun­cil’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee with fur­ther pro­pos­als on top of the £36m of sav­ings they have al­ready been asked to con­sider.

“Th­ese are dev­as­tat­ing cuts and they come af­ter we have al­ready cut about £100m from our bud­get in re­cent years. We’ve tried to pro­tect lo­cal ser­vices through­out, but the sim­ple fact is that there is no fat. We’re al­ready cut­ting into bone.”

Un­der the cur­rent pro­pos­als on the ta­ble, Burn­hill Sports Cen­tre could close while the ed­u­ca­tion bud­get will be slashed by nearly £7m, with the loss of 190 jobs.

SNP Group spokesper­son Sheena Ward­haugh said this week that she didn’t know where Coun­cil­lor McAvoy had got the £21m fig­ure from, and said se­nior of­fi­cials had as­sured mem­bers that the £36m be­ing planned for was the worst case sce­nario.

She said: “It ’ s not look­ing very good, but un­til we see the fi­nal set­tle­ment we can’t know for sure. “I’ve seen the re­ports but I’m not sure where they are get­ting this £21m fig­ure from. We were told we had pre­pared for the worst case sce­nario and if the re­al­ity is £21m more then they haven’t been very ac­cu­rate.

“I don’t see the point of spec­u­lat­ing right now. The coun­cil should now be look­ing at tak­ing more out of our cash re­serves. I know peo­ple aren’t keen be­cause once it’s gone, it’s gone. “There are some things we orig­i­nally wanted to take out the cuts pack­age, but that doesn’t seem likely now.”

Tough times South La­nark­shire Coun­cil could be fac­ing cuts of up to £51mil­lion to bal­ance the books for next year

Con­cern Coun­cil­lor Ed­die McAvoy says the coun­cil is fac­ing bru­tal, ad­di­tional cuts

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.