1,000 jobs under threat as Glasgow Council faces cash shortfall

SCOTLAND’S largest council will have to find almost £50 million of savings over the next two years, according to its latest forecast.

A briefing paper on Glasgow City Council’s financial forecast for 2013-15 said there was a spending gap of £48.8 million

as a result of rising costs and limits on Scottsh Government funding.

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It is believed the council will seek to shed a further 1,000 jobs, having already reduced staff by almost 3,000 through voluntary redundancies and retirement over the past two years.

The council has denied it may be forced to resort to compulsory job cuts to attain any further reduction in staff numbers.

The financial forecast said: “Since 2010-11, the council has experienced year-on-year cash reductions in its settlement from the Scottish Government, resulting from the current economic climate and the UK government’s reduction in public sector finances.

“Although the overall Scottish local government budget will be [at a] standstill over the three-year period 2012-15, the methodology used to distribute funds means that individual local authority budgets will still be subject to fluctuation.

“For Glasgow, the result is that over the next two years the council’s revenue allocation will continue to reduce in cash terms.”

The paper also said a further shortfall of about £50m may be faced by Glasgow in the financial years 2015-17.

In tackling the current deficit, a council spokesman said no plans had yet been made as to how the savings would be made.

“This forecast sets out the financial challenges facing all Scottish local authorities now and in the foreseeable future,” he said.

“We have taken some difficult decisions in the last few years, and over the autumn we will be putting together a package which will continue to take the city forward.”

SNP group leader Graeme Hendry said that he would be looking to work with the Labour group in helping to make the savings.

“The council is facing some difficult decisions over the two years, but set in the context of the budget reductions across all of the public sector, it could be worse and is in line with what we’ve been expecting for a long time,” he said.

“We will be looking carefully at the proposals that come from the administration in February, to see if there’s any attempt to look at universal benefits, such as Glasgow’s winter fuel payments for the elderly, to see if they start targeting them.”

Mr Hendry said he expected capital spending, except funding ringfenced for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and housing, to be directed towards modernising the city’s crumbling

primary school estate as a way of cutting upkeep costs.

Brian Smith, Glasgow branch secretary for Unison, said: “The blame lies with the Tories in terms of austerity, but we’ve been very clear, both at a Scottish and a Glasgow level – Labour and SNP politicians need to do more than pass on the cuts.

“There’s not much point voting for people if they’re just going to manage the cuts,” Mr Smith added: “That’s not what the trade union or, we would argue, most of the people in Glasgow voted for.”

He said that the council should “stand up to the Tories” by refusing to make any more cuts and use any mechanisms available to hold that off for a period of time, and then launch a campaign to argue for more money.

Mr Smith said that the council was now “into the bone” and that these were cuts in real terms, not efficiencies.

Last week, it emerged that North Lanarkshire Council will have to save £73.3m over the next three years.

The authority will launch a major public consultation next month.

It has set out a draft set of

“savings options” totalling £105.7m and, if they are all

implemented, 1,387 full-time equivalent posts could go.

However, the council said that the final number would be

significantly fewer, depending on the decisions that the councillors reached.