More cuts to come in 2016, warns ERC leader

ERC leader Jim Fletcher
ERC leader Jim Fletcher

The leader of East Renfrewshire Council has warned of further cuts ahead following the Scottish Government’s budget announcement.

Holyrood’s local authority allocation has fallen from £9.9 billion in 2015/16 to £9.6 billion in 2016/17 — and councillor Jim Fletcher says there are “very tough decisions” ahead.

The news follows ERC’s controversial budget savings plan, launched in 2014 to combat a shortfall over three years — of which the council has realised savings of £17.4 million.

Those cuts included the much-protested plan to privatise care home Bonnyton House, and the reduction of library services in schools.

Commenting on the four per cent cash reduction faced by the council, councillor Fletcher said: “At a time of increased demand on our services, we are faced with reduced funding from the government and pressure to find unprecedented savings.”

He added that the savings package for 2015-18 “will go some way towards meeting the gap, but further savings will be required in the next year.

“The majority of these savings were identified by looking at efficiencies and by changing how we work. However, it is increasingly difficult to meet additional savings through efficiencies alone.

“There is no doubt it will have an impact on how we deliver services in the future.”

SNP cuts at local level were also condemned by west of Scotland MSP and Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw, who said: “Everything from schools, care homes and local roads are going to be hit by John Swinney’s axe to local councils.”

East Ren’s 2016/17 budget will be announced in February.