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

The Oban Times - - News - STEVEN RAE srae@oban­times.co.uk

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 . . .

Dun­can MacIn­tyre

TOUGH CHOICES: Coun­cil­lor Dun­can MacIn­tyre

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