Children, the elderly and disabled could all be hit by cuts of up to 25% in council spending, a new document has revealed.
Faced by reduced grants from the Scottish Government and with Council Tax levels frozen in recent years, Argyll and Bute Council says it is faced by a funding gap of up to £37.5m.
As ‘an initial step’, plans are now being considered to cut £25m from its budget in the next three years via a ‘Service Choices’ programme.
A meeting in Lochgilphead on Thursday will hear plans to cut 7% from some ‘service packages’ and 20% or even 25% in others – although some areas are exempt and others, such as communications and marketing, will see an increase in spending.
A report says this approach will move away from ‘a salami slicing cut’ and mean the budget can be aligned with priorities – but admits that job cuts are inevitable and the cost of redundancy payments ‘significant’.
Dozens of areas are earmarked for cuts of 20%, including libraries, although the report states: “Given the range of free library services, any reductions would have a disproportionate adverse impact on vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals and groups.
“Library branch closures have attracted widespread opposition and national media coverage in recent years.”
Other areas which could face 20% cuts include:
- Child protection
- Music tuition
- Street lighting
- Piers harbours and ferries, youth services
- Non-teaching costs in schools
- Swimming pools
- Services for addiction
- Learning disability services
- Community centres and halls
- Mental health services
The report, which will be considered by the council’s policy and resources committee, pins the blame on reduced grants from Edinburgh, as well as demographic trends: “The population of Argyll and Bute is falling while the population of Scotland is growing.
“This means that Argyll and Bute will get a smaller proportion of the already reduced funding from the Scottish Government available for local authorities.”
The full report is here (4.7mb PDF file): SERVICE CHOICES