Scottish council bosses fear 22,000 job losses

Local authority chief executives and finance directors at Scotland’s local authorities fear up to 22,000 council staff will lose their jobs over the next two years due to spending cuts, according to research by financial and business consultants Grant Thornton.

The survey was based on responses from 39 chief executives and finance directors across Scotland’s 32 local authorities.

When asked which services they expected to reduce most, 46% named environment and transport followed by 31% who said education and learning.

The survey found that 51% of council chiefs feared that spending cuts would lead to job losses of between 6% and 10% – equating to between 13,200 and 22,000 posts.

Only 8% of council bosses supported reforming public sector pensions, while only one chief executive of those polled backed any review of the number and size of local councils in Scotland, compared to one-third of finance directors.

When asked what they would like to see happen to create greater efficiency, 62% cited greater use of shared resources across councils while only 10% supported more private sector involvement in delivering services.

Gary Devlin, director at Grant Thornton, said: “The projected 10% cut [in council budgets] will mean up to 22,000 fewer local government employees in three years’ time. This is unlikely to be achieved without a compulsory redundancy programme, which trade unions will find difficult to stomach.

“It is perhaps surprising, however, that one-third of councils are looking to make savings in education and learning services, indicating a growing consensus that the significant investment in education in the last 10 years has not delivered the educational attainment improvement hoped for and now is the time to look for more efficiency.

In June, Renfrewshire Council said it could cut 700 jobs as it tried to save up to £90 million over the next three years.

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