‘Significant reduction in staff needed’ to meet council spending gap

The council will set its budget on Thursday, where councillors will have to wrestle with a £60.8m black hole in finances.

‘Significant reduction in staff needed’ to meet Glasgow council spending gap iStock

A scheme offering voluntary redundancy to Glasgow City Council staff looks set to be extended for three years as the city seeks to close a £60m funding gap with, in part, a “significant reduction” in staff.

The council, the largest in the country, will set its budget on Thursday, where councillors will have to wrestle with a £60.8m black hole in finances.

A report to be considered by councillors at the meeting has recommended they extend the authority’s voluntary severance policy for a further three years.

The policy was due to expire in March.

The report said: “The proposals to meet the spending gap will require a significant reduction in staffing. Some of this will be delivered via non-filling of vacancies and attrition however voluntary severance will also be required.

“In June 2020, the city administration committee approved a report proposing a voluntary severance policy from 2020-2023.

“It, however, was designed to operate for a fixed period of three years, that period coming to an end at the end of March 2023.

“It is proposed that those arrangements are continued for a further three years to cover all council staff.”

The budget comes amid increasing financial strife for local authorities, with a number wrestling with similar shortfalls to Glasgow.

Earlier this year, reports emerged of speculative plans that could reduce teacher numbers in the city by as many as 800.

In direct response, both the First Minister and education secretary sought to block councils from dropping teacher numbers – a move that would be directly opposed to Scottish Government policy.

Last week, education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville announced in Holyrood that ministers would “withhold or recoup” money given to councils specifically to maintain teacher numbers.

The report went on to say there was “uncertainty” around any funding cuts that could result from a move to reduce teacher numbers.

“There is uncertainty around settlement conditions which may be enforced by Scottish Government if local authorities reduce teacher and support for learning workers’ numbers in education services,” the report said.

“There are ongoing discussions between COSLA and the Scottish Government on this matter.”

In an unusual step, the Scottish Labour group in the city, which narrowly missed out on becoming the biggest on the council at last year’s election, announced last week it would not put forward its own budget proposals, meaning the SNP administration would be able to pass its own plans without the need for a deal with any other party.

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