Hard choices ahead as councillors discuss £45 million cuts

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North Lanarkshire Council is to consult staff and residents on cuts of up to £45 million.

The council must find ways to save this money over the next two years.

On Wednesday, October 28, councillors will discuss a report outlining ways the council can save money during 2016/2017 and 2017/2018. The report shows that the council anticipates a budget gap of more than £68 million for the next two years.

At next week’s meeting councillors will be asked to approve more than £22 million in savings already identified and approve a consultation in November to identify a further £45 million in cuts.

Council leader Jim McCabe said: “We countinue to face a real-terms cut in the money made available to us by the Scottish Government and so we have no choice but to find more savings on top ofthe £110 million we’ve been forced to save in the last five years.

“This becomes even more difficult when more than £200 million of our budget is effectively ring-fenced by legislation.

“Many of the options to save this kind of money are extremely unpalatable adn will have real consequences for the vital services we provide to the people of North Lanarkshire. They will also have a real impact on our employees, who work so hard to provide those services.

“That’s why it is essential we consult on the options we have. it’s important to stress that these are options for consultation and not decisions. Those will be made once we have analysed all the feedback from residents, employees and trade unions.

“We are committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies and will do everything we can to deal with reductions in staffing through voluntary redundancy, early retirement and redeployment.

“We are also committed to ensuring that we are still able to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

If approved, the consultation will run throughout November with feedback provided to councillors in January before the budget is set in February.

Councillor Tom Johnston of the council’s SNP group added: “We have founded groups to look at the funding within each of the council’s various departments and we will try to make sure that any cuts are as humane as possible, avoiding compulsory redundancies. These cuts are a result of Westminster policies.”