Inverclyde budget agreed

Thursday 21 March 2019

Inverclyde councillors have agreed a budget for 2019/20 with the council’s revenue budget  set at over £190m with savings of almost £7m agreed in the next two years including the loss of nearly 58 posts.

The budget also includes £3.6m of investment proposals and a four year capital programme for the year of over £71m.

The council’s budget has been proposed with unanimous support from the cross-party members budget working group which includes representatives from all political groups and the independents.

Inverclyde Council Leader, Councillor Stephen McCabe, chairs the group and thanked the councillors for their work during the year.

He said: “I would like to thank the members of the budget working group, and indeed all other members, for their contributions over the past nine months. The group met on sixteen occasions and, on the whole, our discussions were amicable and constructive. There can’t be many, if any, councils in Scotland with a more inclusive approach to budget setting.

“I know that the trade unions are rightly disappointed with some of the savings being proposed today but I’m sure they understand the difficulties faced by councillors in achieving a balanced budget.

“The need for savings arises from a number of factors, including a like for like cut to our core grant from the Scottish Government of £2.9m; no provision within the core government settlement for pay awards to staff; no provision within the settlement for non-pay inflation and the impact of demographic pressures resulting in increased demand for particular services.

“As a council, we have mitigated the impact of these pressures by applying a 4.79% increase in council tax and a general 3% increase in fees and charges. These decisions were not taken lightly.”

The budget savings agreed at the council meeting today (21 March 2019) includes reduced opening hours to the council’s museums service’ reductions in community learning and development services, reduced cleaning in schools and additional charges for seasonal garden waste uplifts.

The budget also includes new investment areas including funding for Frank’s Law which provides free personal care for under 65s. 

In 2016 the council supported the Frank’s Law campaign, led by Amanda, the widow of former footballer Frank Kopel.  Frank died in 2014 aged 65 eight years after being diagnosed with dementia.

His widow Amanda has been campaigning for Frank’s Law for the extension of free personal care for those under the age of 65 who need it.

The budget also includes funding for the roll out of the 1140 free hours of childcare and early learning and for the provision of free sanitary products to address period poverty.

Cross-party proposals for additional investment by the council’s members budget working party includes the rollout of universal free school meals to primary four pupils; an amendment to the eligibility criteria for entitlement to free school meals and clothing grants meaning approximately 300 more children will qualify for these benefits and the mainlining of funding for our I Youth Zones youth facilities in Port Glasgow and Greenock.

Councillor McCabe added: “Despite all of the investments and the normal day-to day business of the council to support and help thousands of residents every day, the harsh reality is that the focus of this budget will rightly be on the cuts we are making.

“As a result of this budget 58  full-time equivalent posts will be lost. This will bring to 669 the number of full-time equivalent posts lost in this Council alone since March 2009. This is more than twice the number of jobs we successfully fought to save at Texas Instruments’ plant in Greenock.

“Unfortunately we face this prospect every year of this council term unless we see an end to the austerity policies which could see the council facing cuts of up to £16m in the coming years.”

Inverclyde Council’s budget meeting took place today (Thursday 21 March 2019). The full committee papers including the budget and capital programme are available to download online at: https://www.inverclyde.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/2133  

Inverclyde Council set its council tax on 21 February 2019 with an increase of 4.79%: https://www.inverclyde.gov.uk/news/2019/feb/inverclyde-council-raises-council-tax-by-4-79 

Page last updated: 21 March 2019