Inverclyde Council Budget Strategy 2017/20 – Unison Statement

On the 16th December the Scottish Government will announce the budget settlement for 2017/18. Indications are that the final settlement for Councils will be at least as bad as it was in 2016/17.

Inverclyde Council has projected a shortfall of £2.8m for the next financial year, although this could increase significantly if the level of funding from the Scottish Government is less than it was for this year. The Council have already advised the Trade Unions that they do not intend to cut or withdraw services in the next financial year. They have stated that they will use reserves to close the budget gap and that is likely to remain the case even if the shortfall increases beyond the projected £2.8m.

The position moving into the next budget cycle, 2018/20, is more precarious. Whilst it is too early to say, the budget gap for this period could be anything between £13m and £18m. UNISON will, as we have done in the past with relative success, seek to ensure that the measures taken to address this problem do not include the loss of jobs and services. Or at the very least the Council avoid the use of compulsory redundancies.

Earlier this year the Branch invited elected members to sign up to our ‘No Compulsory Redundancy’ pledge. Labour and SNP Councillors agreed to do so. However this commitment does not extend beyond 1st April 2018. It is our intention to make the same approach to all elected members and political parties locally in the New Year. UNISON members who live and vote locally should know what the different candidates have to say about compulsory redundancies amongst Council workers.

The Branch understands that the prospect of budget cuts can be an extremely unsettling issue for many members. However to date UNISON and the other Trade Unions have managed to exercise considerable influence on the budget process and decisions through the joint budget group. As long as the political commitment towards this level of engagement with the Trade Unions continues then we see no reason why we can’t influence outcomes moving forward.