Monday, 16 June 2008

Do the maths

Glasgow contribution to the Commonwealth Games will be £56 million - just remember that has nothing to do with this:

Council set for £50m cutbacks

GLASGOW City Council will have to slash £50million from its budget over the next couple of years, council leader Steven Purcell has revealed.

A number of factors means that next year the city will have almost £20m less than it needs to meet essential spending.

The following year the shortfall is almost £30m.

To avert a potential cash crisis, directors in council departments have been told to find £25m of savings for each of the following two years.

The bulk of the cuts will be in education and social work, the departments that have the largest budgets.

However, Mr Purcell today made three big pledges to city residents and council staff. He promised:

Frontline services would not be hit by the cuts.

Only around 25 middle management jobs would go through natural wastage and voluntary redundancy. There would be no compulsory redundancies.

The staging of the Commonwealth Games would not be at risk.

Mr Purcell has taken the unusual step of telling staff and opposition councillors of the financial pressures facing the council over the next couple of years.

He said: "No matter how difficult public finance gets over the next few years we are committed to providing the core services that are important to the city. These are: getting people back into work, improving educational attainment and better public health."

Mr Purcell said the jobs axe was likely to fall on some of the council's 250 middle managers, but the vast majority of the council's 32,000 staff would be safe.

In recent years, the council has merged departments, slashing a substantial numbers of senior managers, and has cut the number of highly paid directors from 10 to five.

In 2006/07 the city was forced to slash spending by £60m and cut a further £40m the following year.

Mr Purcell said the £25m cut needed next year represented only 2.5% of the overall budget, against cuts of 4-6% in previous years.

A priority for the council in the next couple of years will be to continue streamlining services, ensuring they are as effective as possible.

But Mr Purcell said funding for the 2014 Games would not be at risk from the cuts.

Over the next six years, the council will fund £56m of the £288m cost of staging the Games, with the remainder being picked up by the Scottish Government.

The council leader defended funding of the event and said the long-term benefit to the city would be massive.

He said: "For example, the Games is allowing us - for the first time since the rebuilding of the city after the Second World War - to guarantee every school leaver a modern apprenticeship next year, with a substantial number of them in construction."

This year, the council will spend £2.5billion delivering a wide range of services, from education and social work to parks and planning.

But it has come under financial pressure in a range of areas, including higher than anticipated inflation, the credit crunch and soaring bills for fuel, gas and electricity.

The council will also be hit by the huge number of police officers expected to retire in the next couple of years.

In 2009-10 it will have to find almost £10.8m more to fund its share of the cost of paying police pensions, bringing its total contribution towards the running of Strathclyde Police to £121m.

The following year, the higher than normal number of retiring officers will mean the council will have to find a further £7m.

Despite the gloomy cash situation, Mr Purcell is determined the people of Glasgow will not suffer.

Mr Purcell believes the bulk of the savings can be made by improving efficiency and reducing bureaucracy within the council.

He said: "When I became leader of the council three years ago one of the things I wanted the council to start doing was to have a real examination of every penny we spend and to do that on a regular basis."

8:02am Thursday 22nd May 2008

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