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