200 Fife Council jobs could go as Council Tax rises 3%

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Fife Council will increase council tax by three per cent – the maximum increase allowed – to cover a budget reduction coming from the Scottish Government next year.

And co-leader David Ross, has warned that up to 200 jobs could be at risk.

While the local authority’s allocation from Government has risen by two per cent, the majority of that money is restricted to specific areas, such as the expansion of early learning and childcare, which will receive £18.4m.

The money the council has to spend on day to day things – from housing and road repairs – has actually reduced by £10m, or a 1.6 per cent reduction from last year.

SNPs David Alexander, co-leader, said: “We have savings to make, but we have also been given additional money which, while ring-fenced, is very welcome. Our overall reduction is similar to the Scottish Government reduction from Westminster.

“So far, no political parties have sat down seriously and talked to the Scottish Government about options. Until they do – and put forward their own ideas – any criticism needs to be seen in that light.

“We can balance the budget with this settlement.”

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However, Labour co-leader David Ross has warned that the budget was significantly worse than they had prepared for, and further cuts to services like education and housing services should be expected.

Councillor Ross said: “Fife’s budget settlement from the Scottish Government is significantly worse than we were planning for. Instead of the £6m cut in our core grant we expected, we are now looking at  almost £10m. This is before we factor in cost increases for inflation and increased demands on services.

“Claims by the SNP Government that councils are being treated fairly are completely false and verging on the dishonest.

“Although there is additional funding, this is ring fenced for new activities councils are expected to carry out at the direction of the Scottish Government, such as funding for the increase in early years and childcare. Once this is all stripped out, there is a significant cut in the core funding councils need to run their basic local services.

“In Fife, this is a cut of 1.6 per cent in our core grant amounting to just under £10m.

“The consequences of this are likely to be further cuts to school budgets, cuts in roads maintenance, cuts to environmental and housing services, cuts to voluntary sector organisations providing much needed local services on behalf of the Council, increases in charges and further cuts in support staff such as finance and HR. This could mean a loss of as many as 200 jobs.”

Gail Macgregor, COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson, has echoed this, saying that local governments will continue to struggle to meet costs next year.

Ms Macgregor said: “The reality is that this is not a flat cash revenue settlement for local government. It is a cut of £153m for essential local government services.

“While COSLA is fully supportive of wider capital investment we are disappointed that there is a cut of £60m to local capital funding.

“There are serious financial challenges that lie ahead in several areas and there is no doubt that these will have an impact on the essential services that councils deliver. A particular issue is public sector pay if this is not fully funded.”