More than £4m in savings have been agreed by Inverclyde Council before Christmas – in a move that will spark the loss of 15.5 full-time equivalent jobs.
Leader Stephen McCabe conceded it was “not easy” meeting the target, which had been set earlier this year, and warned “very difficult choices” would be necessary in the coming months.
Officer-identified proposals totalling £1.14m and savings of £2.585m brought forward by the members’ budget working group were approved at Thursday’s special council meeting.
The steps have been taken on top of previous cost-cutting measures and mean the local authority has surpassed its initial objective as it tries to address an estimated funding gap of around £16.2m across the next two years.
Councillor McCabe said: “It was a challenge that we were set by officers to try and achieve £4m of savings by December and on the basis of the proposals here, we will achieve that. It was not easy.
“The extent of the financial crisis that’s facing Inverclyde and all other Scottish councils is unprecedented.
“We are going to face very difficult choices and very difficult decisions today and over the coming months.”
The savings included a reduction in employability services and the annual anti-poverty budget, among various other measures.
They followed a public consultation which sought the views of residents on a host of potential cuts.
It was also agreed a range of proposals relating to Inverclyde Leisure will now go out to a similar consultation in January.
These include a voluntary redundancy trawl, potential closures of some facilities and reduced opening times.
The full savings proposals, if taken, could mean the loss of 23 full-time equivalent jobs.
Councillor McCabe added: “There’s absolutely no doubt that every aspect of our life will be affected by these savings.
“But the stark reality for us as councillors, elected members, is we’ve got to set a balanced budget, we’ve got the responsibility to set a balanced budget.
“It’s not something that we can walk away from.
“I’ve been here for a long number of years – more years than I should be some probably think – but I have to say after more than a decade of funding cuts, caps on council tax, there just isn’t any fat to cut.”
The Scottish Government announced its 2023/24 budget, including the local government settlement, last week.
Local authorities are awaiting further information to determine what that means for each council.
The level of funding for Inverclyde, once known, will impact the council’s budget setting process in the new year and any requirement for additional savings.