Jobs on the line as cuts bite
COUNCIL CALLS FOR VOLUNTARY REDUNDANCIES AS IT AIMS TO SAVE BETWEEN £15M TO £18M OVER NEXT TWO YEARS
CASHED-strapped bosses at Argyll and Bute council are asking for voluntary redundancies as the authority tries to save more than £15 million.
All staff, with the exception of school teachers and social care employees registered with the Scottish Social Services council, will be invited to take a voluntary redundancy package.
The move is part of the council’s bid to slash spending by between £15.7 million and £18.4 million over the next two years.
The authority’s policy and resources committee endorsed the austerity plan at a meeting in Lochgilphead last week.
A report by Douglas Hendry, the council’s executive director of community services, made no mention of the number of redundancies which might be required to help bridge the council’s budget gap.
However, the report did say: ‘It is anticipated that the council will require to reduce its budget by between £21.7m - £26.m over
five years with a an anticipated reduction in the next two years of between £15.7 and £18.4m.
‘Inevitably jobs will be affected and, given the council’s policy to avoid compulsory redundancies as far as possible, it is recommended that a letter is sent to council employees asking them to express an interest in voluntary redundancy.’
A report to the council’s policy and resources committee highlighted that not all requests for voluntary redundancy would be guaranteed as the council must ensure that services continue to operate.
The council will explore further savings from different services, such as the use of fuel- efficient vehicles to reduce the budget for pool cars, pupil transport or reducing travel budgets. It will also scrutinise small central budgets for postage or publication subscriptions.
The local authority said that cuts which would affect major services would be put out for pub- lic consultation from October, with the committee to receive feedback and recommend proposals to the council in January next year. A final decision will be announced by the council in February.
Councillor for Oban North and Lorn, Duncan MacIntyre, said that any loss of staff in the local authority would have an impact on the services delivered.
He said: ‘It’s very sad we have to have redundancies, but we have to be mindful that some people may want to accept the offer, and obviously have to honour that.
‘It’s obviously far better than forcing redundancies on people - I suppose it’s the lesser of two evils.
‘It’s still a concern though, because at the moment the council is struggling with staff numbers for things like grass cutting and street cleaning. If you start reducing numbers in areas such as that, you’re going to notice a big difference very quickly.
‘That means you have to weigh these things up.’
He continued: ‘ Do you take people from the front line services or from higher up? There’s no easy answer.
‘You could take two members of management, who are on £ 50,000 salaries, or five people ‘on the ground’ at £20,000, but the impact on these services will be noticed very quickly.
‘The reduction of three councillors in the 2017 elections, if the boundary changes go ahead, will obviously save money but that’s still 18 months away.’
In 2010, a similar call for voluntary redundancies by the council received more than 900 responses.
. . . at the moment the council is struggling with staff numbers . . .
TOUGH CHOICES: Councillor Duncan MacIntyre