No compulsory redundancies, but nearly 300 jobs will go as council sets budget

North Lanarkshire Council has set its budget for 2016/17
North Lanarkshire Council has set its budget for 2016/17

North Lanarkshire Council is cutting 287 jobs as part of £19.5 million of savings being implemented over the next year.

However, as the council set its budget yesterday the Labour administration was adamant there would be no compulsory redundancies.

At present there are 177 vacancies within the council and the remaining 110 jobs will be dealt with through redeployment, voluntary redundancy or early retirement.

The council declined to accept options for cuts in a range of services, including: not accepting the closure of First Stop Shops, not cutting the roads maintenance budget, rejecting changes to litter picking and grass cutting operations, rejecting proposed increases in charges for lunch clubs, school breakfast clubs, school milk, music tuition and special uplifts.

However, there will be an increase in the charge for garden assistance, cemetery plots, pest control and school meals, as well as removing free fruit for primary school children, cutting ‘graffiti gangs’ stopping Outward Bound for some pupils in S3, ceasing truancy officer provision and closing the Municipal Bank in Motherwell.

The annual management fees paid to North Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture NL will both be cut by around £1 million.

The council did decided to bring investment in the current housing stock to a quarter of a billion pounds over the next five years and expand its new-build housing programme.

More than 26,000 homes will be improved as a result, with council tenant rent going up by an average of £1.73 a week.

Councillor leader Jim McCabe said: “This has been a horrendously difficult exercise. We are faced with huge cuts from the Scottish Government and it has been extremely difficult to manage.

“However, we have left no stone unturned in getting to a settled budget for 2016/17 and I am pleased that there will be no compulsory redundancies as a result.

“There is no doubt that some of the cuts we are being forced to make will have an impact.

“However, we carried out the biggest consultation in the council’s history and have tried to reflect the message we received, which was to protect jobs and maintain services for young people and vulnerable people.

“Make no mistake, this is a budget I would rather not have set. But the scale of the cuts to local government from the Scottish Government are much higher than to other parts of the public sector.

“What I find even more appalling is that, while councils on average have had to endure a 3.4 per cent cut, an area like North Lanarkshire, with the deprivation we have, has its budget cut by 3.9 per cent.”

For a full list of all the cuts visit the council website