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Council budget cuts could see jobs go

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By Rod Edgar
Council budget cuts could see jobs go

UP to 400 jobs are feared at risk in the region — as a budget settlement is confirmed for Dumfries and Galloway Council.

A letter from Deputy First Minister John Swinney on Wednesday confirmed Scottish Government plans which leave the local authority needing to find £21.1 million of savings over the next year.
Council leader Ronnie Nicholson noted the Scottish Government will see their budget rise by £500 million during 2016/17 due to a 0.7 per cent rise in their grant from the UK Government.
He added: “What the Scottish Government are proposing is austerity max for local councils and the impact will be devastating for local communities.”
Staff costs make up 43 per cent of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s spending.
And the planned £21.1 million of cuts have prompted fears that up to 400 jobs could be axed locally.
Mr Swinney announced greater sanctions for any council that fails to accept the funding deal or breaks the Council Tax freeze.
Councils had previously been warned they would lose a share of £70 million, meaning a loss of £1.8 million locally.
But Mr Swinney has warned the increase would result in £408 million being cut from council budgets, a cut of a further £12.5 million for Dumfries and Galloway.
A statement from the administration said: “That would mean the Council Tax would have to rise 20 per cent just to recoup the £12.5 million extra cut, with no extra money from that rise going to services.”
Dumfries and Galloway Council have until February 9 to say if they will accept the deal, and Councillor Nicholson said: “These bully boy tactics by the SNP show an utter contempt for local services and local jobs.”
Hitting back yesterday, and yet to see Mr Swinney’s letter, local SNP Group leader Councillor Andy Ferguson said: “I’d have been happier if Mr Nicholson had actually shared that with the other political group leaders, as the budget setting protocol is supposed to do, rather than issue a press release.
“It hardly augers well for a consensus budget.”