Leaked council plans show ‘savage’ cuts to plug £34m funding blackhole

The proposals include ditching services for children with additional support needs and cutting staff numbers.

Leaked council plans show ‘savage’ cuts to plug £34m funding blackhole iStock
Glasgow plans come after the leaders of all Scotland's 32 councils unanimously damned the Government's budget as 'barely survivable'.

Glasgow City Council officials have drawn up plans that would see “savage” cuts to services to plug a £34m funding shortfall.

Leaked documents seen by STV News show proposals including ditching a scheme that provides fresh meals to children during school holidays, cutting school staff, withdrawing services for dyslexic pupils, ending the primary school swimming programme, cutting staff at Customer and Business Services and increasing cremation prices for bereaved families.

It comes after the leaders of all Scotland’s 32 councils unanimously damned the Government’s budget as “barely survivable” – inlcuding Glasgow’s SNP council leader Susan Aitken.

Local authority chiefs warned there would necessarily be cuts to essential services having suffered more than a decade of reduced funding and increasing pressure on core provision, according to spending watchdogs.

Scottish Conservative Glasgow group leader councillor Thomas Kerr said Glasgow, the country’s largest local authority, was set to bear the brunt of “savage cuts”.

“Our city’s vital day-to-day services have already suffered the devastating impact of SNP Government cuts that have been passed onto our councils,” he said.

“It is truly shocking to see that it if these cuts come to pass it will be our young people and most vulnerable who will be hit the hardest.”

The SNP-run Glasgow City Council faces a £33.9m funding gap next year.

After the announcement of the Scottish Government’s budget in December, a meeting of all of the country’s local authority leaders, including those from the SNP, described their funding package as a “bad deal”.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar called the papers “the SNP’s leaked budget for Glasgow” which he said “deserves better”.

Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar said: “This is a brutal attack not just on the city of Glasgow, but on the lives of its children.

“That any council could even commit these ideas to paper confirms how out of touch the SNP administration is.

“Labour will oppose any plans that would make children the victim of the SNP’s policy of cutting councils to the bone.

“Scotland must invest in education, so we can build a better future together – it seems only Labour are committed to that vision.”

But the documents are proposed cuts drawn up by council officers which are then presented to each political party.

The city council’s leader Susan Aitken said: “Every year. Every. Year. Labour go through this pathetic charade of pretending that early officer-generated budget options that are shared with and discussed among all parties are the SNP budget. It’s not. They know fine well it’s not. This is plain dishonesty.”

Aitken, along with the rest of the country’s council leaders, signed a letter to finance secretary Kate Forbes asking for the “unacceptable” funding allocated to local authorities to be reconsidered.

Glasgow City Council treasurer and SNP councillor Ricky Bell said Sarwar was misleading the public ahead of May’s council election but admitted the Government’s funding was “a really difficult settlement”.

“There will have to be budget reductions somewhere,” he told STV News,

“In my role, I am keen to protect money that’s going into the pockets of the poorest.

“I have no problem calling for more money for local government. I make that case every morning when I get out of bed.

“But there’s a way to do that and it’s not by telling bare-faced lies.”

Bell said Glasgow City Council had a policy of not making any complulsory redundancies but admitted he could not say there would be no job cuts.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “As part of the annual budget-setting process, officers develop options on where savings and investment could be considered – and also regularly update a financial forecast; taking into account inflation and the latest information on national settlements.

“Political groups will present their budget proposals next month – and it is for them to decide whether they wish to include any of these options.”

The Scottish Government’s Budget Bill is due to be debated in Parliament on Thursday.