Branch Secretary Robin Taggart gives an update on the recent Council budget
Inverclyde Council agreed it’s budget last month and closed the budget gap using 4 specific interventions:
1) Limited cuts to services
2) A proposed council tax increase of 1.95%
3) A contribution form the Integrated Joint Board (IJB) to fund pay and NI increases for all HSCP staff
4) The use of £4m of reserves.
The main concern for members will be point 1 – cuts to services. There were a small number of service cuts and none that significantly impacted on jobs. However the use of £4m of reserves will simply add to the budget gap next year which means the estimated budget gap for the two year period 2023/25 is £13.4m before any council tax increases. This also assumes that the IJB will continue to fund pay increases for HSCP employees. This was achievable this year due to the additional funds the IJB received from the Scottish Government. IJBs across Scotland are receiving extra money for covid and adult social care. It is intended that moving forward the IJB and not the council will develop any future cuts, savings and pressures affecting HSCP services.
Across the council most if not all of our members will be unaffected by the budget decisions for 2022/23. The trade unions put in a lot of effort through discussions with the corporate management team and elected members to achieve this. This becomes increasingly difficult every year. Flat cash settlements form the Scottish Government can only go so far and don’t take account of inflationary increases and other pressures. To say nothing of pay awards and (for this year anyway) increases to national insurance contributions.
It is never easy or sensible to predict what the budget gap might be when we get nearer to the start of the next financial year in April 2023. We will also know more about the shape of the proposed new national care service and how that might impact on not just adult social care but all HSCP services. We will also have a new council in May and it remains to be seen if that proves to be a positive change in direction.