Council leader fears ‘severe’ service cuts in North Lanarkshire

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North Lanarkshire Council faces a budget gap of £32.3 million as a result of the Scottish Government’s draft plans for funding to local authorities.

The gap is made up of a reduction in core service budget allocation of £16 million, a legal duty to increase to teachers’ pension contributions (£2.5 million) and the single-year effect of the pay offer to local government employees at a national level (£3.8 million).

Councillor Jim Logue, leader of the council, said: “These are severe cuts to the core budget of North Lanarkshire, which pays for the vital services people rely on.

“While an increase in ring-fenced money has been forthcoming, this does not tell the whole story. After years of cuts we are being forced to look for more and this can only ever come at the expense of core services.

“In line with council leaders across the country, of all political parties, I am calling for a rethink from the Scottish Government.

“The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has been very clear in their message: without a fundamental change before the budget is considered by the Scottish Parliament, we are heading for a cliff edge.”

The council has already identified base budget savings to reduce the budget gap to £20.7 million.

The Scottish Parliament will consider the draft budget in January, with the council expected to set its budget for 2019/20 in February.

The council is actively considering its options for savings.

Councillor Logue added: “The Scottish Parliament’s independent researchers have identified quite clearly that these are substantial real terms cuts to councils.

“If we have to enact these, the consequences for services to the people of North Lanarkshire will be severe.”