Bud­get fears

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Dou­glas Dickie

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil could be fac­ing mas­sive cuts of over £27 mil­lion next year, with front­line ser­vices likely to be af­fected.

Of­fi­cers have pre­dicted the grim sce­nario for 2018/19 ahead of an ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee to­day, Wed­nes­day.

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil could be fac­ing mas­sive cuts of over £27 mil­lion next year, with front­line ser­vices likely to be af­fected.

Of­fi­cers have pre­dicted the grim sce­nario for 2018/19 in a paper set to go in front of mem­bers of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee to­day, Wed­nes­day.

The fig­ure has been cal­cu­lated us­ing as­sump­tions based on this year’s gov­ern­ment grant and coun­cil tax col­lec­tion.

This year’s bud­get to­talled over £673m with 81 per cent com­ing from the gov­ern­ment grant.

Coun­cil­lors had to agree a cuts pack­age of £19m to bal­ance the books, lead­ing to hundreds of jobs be­ing scrapped.

Of­fi­cers have come up with three sce­nar­ios based on eco­nomic up­dates from a lead­ing econ­o­mist.

If the au­thor­ity faces cuts sim­i­lar to this year, that could lead to a grant re­duc­tion of £21m.

Cuts sim­i­lar in na­ture but in­clud­ing a late fi­nan­cial boost would mean sav­ings of £10m while an un­likely best-case sce­nario would mean cuts of just £1m.

The use of re­serves means a fur­ther £5.2m will need to be found.

Other com­mit­ments, in­clud­ing pay in­creases and com­mit­ment to the liv­ing wage, could bring the to­tal cuts pack­age to over £42m but ad­just­ments and in­creases in homes pay­ing coun­cil tax bring that fig­ure down to £27m.

The coun­cil must ap­prove a bud­get by Fe­bru­ary next year. With the SNP run­ning a mi­nor­ity ad­min­is­tra­tion, agree­ment will have to be reached with ei­ther Labour or the Tories to pass their spend­ing plans.

The re­port to coun­cil­lors urges cau­tion on Bud­get fears At South La­nark­shire the fig­ures, which are based on pre­vi­ous grant set­tle­ments.

It also says:“The coun­cil’s need to spend will in­crease into 2018/19 mainly from pay awards and pen­sion changes, price inflation and fund­ing for the coun­cil’s pri­or­i­ties.

“Inflation is ex­pected to rise from cur­rent lev­els due to eco­nomic un­cer­tainty and the po­ten­tial im­pact of Brexit, and there­fore we will re­quire to con­sider the im­pacts of this in this and fu­ture strate­gies.

“Over the longer term, the level of grant we will re­ceive is un­known. Along­side this pres­sure on ex­pen­di­ture from pay awards, inflation and con­tin­ued fund­ing for coun­cil pri­or­i­ties means that sav­ings will con­tinue to be re­quired, un­less we re­turn to suf­fi­cient in­creases in grant.”

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