Jobs under threat from Argyll and Bute budget proposals

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Nearly a hundred jobs will be at risk if a package of savings to be considered by Argyll and Bute Council next month is approved in full.

The area’s 36 councillors will be asked to consider a programme of cuts worth more than £5.8 million, putting 93 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs under threat, when they gather for the authority’s annual budget meeting on February 14.

The programme of proposed savings include more than £1.5 million in adult care, more than £1.3 million in education and more than £900,000 in roads and amenity services.

If the savings proposals laid out in the council’s budget pack are agreed in full, most jobs will be at risk in roads and amenity services, where up to 34 jobs could be under threat in a department already hit by a series of cutbacks in recent years.

However, if the full programme of savings options is agreed next month, the budgets for the majority of council departments will actually increase slightly over the next three years.

Other savings proposals included in the council’s 2013-14 budget pack include:

* Scrapping funding for the Meals on Wheels service;

* Cutting the funds available to commission external care packages and to purchase care home placements;

* Shutting the council-owned Struan Lodge care home in Dunoon;

* Slashing ‘enterprise funding’ for schools by 75 per cent;

* Reducing the provision of pupil support teachers by ten per cent across the council area;

* Restructuring the management of the council’s education department;

* Removing the janitorial post from Eaglesham House in Rothesay, and at other premises in Helensburgh and Dunoon;

* Increasing the price of a school meal by 10p;

* Removing the provision of free milk at lunchtime for primary pupils;

* Increasing fees and charges for council services by three per cent.

The proposals have been discussed with political group leaders, staff and trade unions.

Argyll and Bute Council’s lead councillor for strategic finance, James Robb, said: “The new approach to the budget process has been widely welcomed for its transparency and because it provides a clearer picture of the challenges that we face in the longer term.

“In October the council agreed that savings options of £5.8 million should be developed, and the proposals in the budget pack meet this requirement.

“They do include some difficult choices, but we would be failing as a council if we simply chose to keep pushing the problems into the future.”

Members of the public can still have their say on the budget proposals - to read the budget pack in full (all 641 pages of it!), and to give your feedback, click on the two links to the right of this article.

“There is the possibility of changes to these proposals as a result of the various consultations,” Cllr Robb continued, “but only on the basis that an equivalent saving will have to be found.

“The budget is now very much a process rather than an event and work has already started for future years. This includes service reviews and redesigns and very difficult decisions on whether some discretionary services that we provide are sustainable.

“Our focus continues on delivering the services that the residents of Argyll and Bute require in a sustainable manner.”