Union leaders fear massive budget cuts faced by Scotland’s councils will result in thousands of job losses across the country.
Yesterday Edinburgh City Council confirmed further details of cuts amounting to £107 million over the next five years, impacting on almost 1,000 jobs.
Cuts will impact on the services we can all expectUnison spokesman
It came as Glasgow City Council, Scotland’s largest authority, forecast that it may need to make £100m of savings in the next two years – a cut of 7 per cent. The council expects up to 3,000 staff to leave naturally by 2017, but stressed there would be no compulsory redundancies.
Meanwhile, Highland Council – the biggest employer in the north of Scotland – is also warning it will also have to find fresh savings. Chief executive Steve Barron said it would need to save £46m over the next three years, £13m more than originally anticipated.
Mr Barron said the “immediate concern” was that £21m will need to be saved next year.
Moray Council, meanwhile, is facing a budget cut of £15m.
A spokesman for Unison, the biggest trade union in local government, said Scotland had already suffered 40,000 job losses in the public sector in recent years as a result of the financial pressures put on councils.
He added: “It is already very difficult for to provide quality local services, with less and less staff to deliver them and increased demand for these services. We are well beyond the stage that local government can make a few painful efficiency savings.
“These cuts are ideologically driven and will have a fundamental impact on the services we can all expect, and on the jobs of those people delivering these services.”
He insisted the UK Government “must end austerity now” and that the Scottish Government must end the council tax freeze in a bid to give councils maximum flexibility, claiming this would “mitigate the social problems which will no doubt be an outcome of these cuts”.
On the back of Glasgow Council admitting it must find over £100m in savings, Edinburgh City Council fleshed out details of an earlier announcement that it must reduce costs of at least £107m over the next five years.
In order to achieve this and protect the future of front-line services, staff roles are to be reduced across the organisation.
A spokesman said: “The proposed restructuring will lead to the reduction of 946 roles, most of which will be management.
“This transformation will see the creation of a new operating model that will provide services through four localities, with more emphasis on local decision-making. It will also allow for more consistent and ‘joined up’ working with partners such as Police Scotland and NHS Lothian.” If agreed by the council next Thursday, the recommendations will be taken forward for consultation with trade unions and staff. Finance convener Alasdair Rankin, said: “The council is facing unprecedented financial challenges.
“We have no choice but to change the way we work if we are to protect frontline services for the people of Edinburgh. Modernising and streamlining our processes will reduce the number of roles across the council.”
Highland Council senior management have warned councillors of a “significant worsening” in its projected financial position.
Councillors have been told the budget gap was estimated to increase to £46.2m over the next three years.
Key reasons include assumptions of a cut in grant funding and changes to pensions and national insurance.
The Scottish Government said it was committed to protecting public services and local government budgets. A commission set up by the government is currently looking at what are described as “fairer alternatives” to the council tax.
Local government minister Marco Biagi said: “All councils, including Glasgow City Council and Highland Council, receive a fair share of the total local government settlement of over £10.85bn.
“Scottish ministers believe the current local tax system is unfair – that’s why we have worked with our local government partners to freeze the council tax for the eighth consecutive year.”