UNISON welcomes Inverclyde Council’s decision to commit to the use of free reserves to balance its budget for 2018/20. UNISON sees this as a sensible and progressive step and believes that cuts to jobs and important front line services are now avoidable.
Robin Taggart, UNISON Branch Secretary says: “The use of free reserves and the slightly better than expected cash settlement does change the overall position moving forward. There is no longer the need to cut 125 front line jobs and the services which our members provide. There is no longer the need to close and de-professionalise our libraries or withdraw adult education and youth work services. There is no longer the need to withdraw important advice services to many vulnerable people in our communities. Schools and street cleaning can be retained at current levels as can customer service points. There is certainly no need to compromise the safety of our communities by slashing community warden, CCTV and other social protection services. The council have approved a sensible policy and now they have the opportunity to take the next step and deliver a progressive budget. The Scottish Government can also play its part and listen to the many voices of reason. It is not enough to expect Councils to absorb inflation, pay awards and other unavoidable pressures without the proper funding.
The settlement which Inverclyde Council receives is constrained by growing de-population. UNISON believes that this problem cannot be properly addressed if vital public services are being cut: Mr Taggart says: “Strategies aimed at encouraging people to come and live in Inverclyde can be complex. Of course it is important to have Schools, proper health services and adequate housing provision. However the Council needs to look further and recognise that cutting public sector jobs and withdrawing local services can seriously stifle re-population efforts. This is why UNISON are calling on the Council to deliver a progressive budget early next year.”