COUNCIL Faces ‘Stark Choice’ Between Cuts And Tax Rises

2 February, 2024 | Local

INVERCLYDE residents are being encouraged to have their say on a range of council budget saving proposals worth almost £3million that could result in the loss of 70 jobs.

The local authority launched the second phase of its budget consultation covering the 2024/26 period.

It includes a package of proposed savings totalling £2.9million, which could result in substantial job losses and reduced services, plus options for increasing council tax over the next two years.

As it stands, the council faces a funding gap of £2million during 2024/26, depending on the level of council tax and the use of reserves.

The council is seeking the views of residents on four council tax scenarios that include options to accept the Scottish Government freeze or for the local authority to set its own rates.

The consultation also asks for feedback on 16 budget savings proposals that, if all are taken, would save £2.9million and result in the loss of up to 70 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs across a range of services.

Proposals include switching off public space CCTV, stopping the community warden service, closing Gourock’s recycling centre, and reductions across services such as employability, community grants, grounds maintenance, customer services, libraries, school music tuition, and nursery provision.

Feedback from the consultation will help councillors to make decisions when setting the budget.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, leader of Inverclyde Council, said: “A lower than expected grant from the Scottish Government in their draft budget that doesn’t account for inflation and potential pay increases and includes a proposed council tax freeze means that councils are now, once again, in the extremely difficult position of looking at deep and wide-ranging savings across all services.

“For Inverclyde, it means further significant savings over the next two years and potentially 70 FTE job losses, which could result in the loss of some services completely or major reductions.

“These are not the type of decisions that any of us want to make but we are legally obliged to set a balanced budget each year and, unless more money is forthcoming from the government, this is the grim reality of what we as elected officials and council officers are faced with. We face a stark choice between increases in council tax and cuts to jobs and services.

“Given the substantial impact these savings could have on our residents and service users, it is important that the public are given the opportunity to have their say on these proposals to help inform our decision-making when setting the budget.”

The council must have set a balanced budget before the end of March. A date has still to be set for the budget meeting. Consultation will run until Wednesday 14 February on the council website.

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