Council job cuts likely in budget
Councillors will have to make ‘unpopular decisions’ when setting budget for 2019-20
The chief executive of Dundee City Council has said job cuts may be the only way the local authority can make the near £20 million of savings required in 2019-20.
David Martin told the local authority’s policy and resources committee last night that plans to reduce staff numbers would likely be “part and parcel” of any budget proposals put forward next month.
Dundee City Council expects to have to find savings of £19.4 million.
Mr Martin said: “There will be policy choices that will not be popular in the city.”
Let’s not pretend the problems in local government are only in Scotland. These problems are across these islands and are being faced by parties of all colours
Job losses at Dundee City Council are inevitable as it makes nearly £20 million of cuts, the local authority’s chief executive has warned.
David Martin told the policy and resources committee that balancing the revenue budget for 2019-20 would require decisions that would be “unpopular in the city”.
A report presented to councillors yesterday said on current assumptions the council will have to find budget savings of £19.4m in 2019-20.
Although it has the power to raise council tax by up to 3%, this would only raise additional income of £1.5m.
Lord Provost Ian Borthwick said the situation was the worst he has seen in local government since he was first elected as a councillor 56 years ago.
Mr Martin told councillors that local authority budgets have reduced in real terms over the past decade.
He said: “We are facing major challenges as a city and as a city council.
“With over 60% of council costs as staff costs, reducing the head count has to be part and parcel of presenting a balanced budget proposal to elected members.
“Councils across Scotland are making the point that while you can be efficient, there is only so much you can do.”
He added: “Officers will deliver proposals for a balanced budget but there will be difficult decisions.
“There will be policy choices that will not be popular in the city or with elected members.”
Mr Borthwick urged councillors from all parties to work together to lessen the impact of the cuts on Dundee and its citizens.
He said: “In all honesty, this is the most worrying and significant budget in my 56 years in local government.
“I have never seen a council facing these issues and challenges.
“I think it is important to remember that there are so many families in our city in a very difficult place and many people are experiencing significant levels of poverty.”
Lochee Labour councillor Michael Marra said the system of funding local government and other public services in Scotland is “broken”.
He added: “It’s a disaster. The NHS is in crisis. Colleges are in crisis.
“People are going to lose their jobs because of spending commitments the Scottish Government has made that it does not have the money to pay for.
“We’re in a situation where we cannot offer basic services. We’ve been gutted by 10 years of incompetence.”
SNP Ferry councillor Kevin Cordell said it was wrong to blame the Scottish Government and that years of austerity has led to swingeing cuts at councils across the UK.
He said: “Councils in England have had cuts of 40%, while in Wales, which is Labour run, cuts have been deeper than in Scotland. Let’s not pretend the problems in local government are only in Scotland. These problems are across these islands and are being faced by parties of all colours.”
Councillors will meet on February 21 to set the budget for 2019-20.
Dundee City Council chief executive David Martin warned of job losses and unpopular decisions in the face of cuts to council funding.