Losers in ruthless battle to slash spending on schools to the bone

22nd November 1996 at 00:00
* Aberdeen (Labour)

Faces an overall reduction of Pounds 13m to Pounds 29m. No figure has been set yet for education. Education budget cut this year from Pounds 95m to Pounds 88m which "without question", James Wyness, the education chairman, says had an impact on the poorest families as charges were introduced or rose for music, meals and transport. He fears staff redundancies, cuts in devolved budgets to schools, contracting out community education, and shelving commitment to nursery education for three-year-olds.

* Aberdeenshire (Liberal DemocratIndependent)

"We do not expect to be looking at expansion in services," Charles Armstrong, head of corporate finance, comments. The council's education department was one of the worst hit this year, with a planned budget reduction of 10 per cent totalling more than Pounds 11m. Officials hope the final figure will be restricted to Pounds 7m.

* Angus (SNP)

All departments have been asked to contemplate a 5 per cent reduction. which would cut more than Pounds 2m from education. But Brian Milne, the education chairman, hopes his colleagues will be persuaded to protect education once again. The budget was cut by 3.4 per cent this year and school staffing by only 1.78 per cent against council-wide savings of 8 per cent.

* Argyll and Bute (Independent)

The education budget is Pounds 866,000 overspent this year, despite Pounds 1.6m saved at the start of the financial year and the council as a whole is Pounds 5m above its expected capping limit. Three school closures are currently subject to consultation and redundancies are "a possibility" next year. "Our mismatch between what we need and what we get is over Pounds 2m," Alan Macaskill, the education chairman, says.

* Clackmannanshire (Labour)

Non-statutory services will come under enormous pressure, Keir Bloomer, director of education, predicts. He has been instructed to come up with two savings packages, both confidential, and is examining "more cost-effective ways of delivering the service". The council cut education spending this year by 3 per cent (Pounds 800,000), compared with an overall 7 per cent reduction in spending. Margaret Paterson, the education spokesperson, believes this protectionist policy will continue.

* Dumfries Galloway (Independent)

Expects to have spending reductions of Pounds 8m-Pounds 9m. All departments, including education, which has a current budget of Pounds 65m, have been asked to prepare an 8 per cent cuts package. This would mean pruning just over Pounds 5m from education on top of this year's Pounds 2m loss. Ken Macleod, the director of education, hopes redundancies can be achieved through voluntary severance and early retirement. "It is a pretty desperate scenario," he says.

* Dundee (Labour)

Officials are working on the assumption of a Pounds 4m cut in education, following this year's Pounds 3m. Cuts across all services will total Pounds 10m.

* East Ayrshire (Labour)

Officials have been asked to compile options ranging from cuts of 1-6 per cent which would remove up to Pounds 3.3m from education. A proposed cut of 2.6 per cent, totalling Pounds 1.4m, at the start of the financial year included the controversial closure of five schools. Failure to achieve that figure meant further savings of Pounds 287,000 in the course of this year to head off overspending.

* East Dunbartonshire (Labour)

Ronald McInally, the education chairman, is avoiding "guesswork" but admits the picture looks "horrendous". Further cuts would come on top of this year's Pounds 1.5m (3 per cent).

* East Lothian (Labour)

Options ranging from 3-5 per cent are being drawn up by officials in all departments, which would remove up to Pounds 2.1m from education. "It would be an absolute disaster," Alan Blackie, the director of education, admits. "It would not be possible to achieve 5 per cent without affecting staffing levels."

* East Renfrewshire (LabourLiberal Democrat)

All departments have been told to find 3 per cent which means Pounds 1. 62m removed from education on top of this year's Pounds 1.2m. Officials are also being asked to come up with 3 per cent growth targets as part of a three-year corporate plan. Eleanor Currie, the director of education, says it would be difficult to make savings in central administration since her department has only 27 staff. Front-line services will be protected and redundancies are "extremely unlikely".

* Edinburgh (Labour)

Overspent by Pounds 8m this year and faces a Pounds 30m cut if Government capping limits are enforced. Education's share would be around Pounds 13m but Elizabeth Maginnis, the education convener, says even half that figure would be an impossible target. "There is no way we can find large sums of money without losing major parts of the service such as community education, school catering and the whole of nursery education apart from provision for four-year-olds, " she says. This year saw Pounds 3.3m cut from education.

* Falkirk (Labour)

The budget will be under "significant pressure", the council says. Education savings this year totalled Pounds 1.2m, 2 per cent.

* Fife (Labour)

Overall cuts of Pounds 20m of which education will have to find Pounds 7m-8m, 5.5 per cent, on top of this year's 3 per cent cut of Pounds 4.3m .

* Glasgow (Labour)

Expected capping limits will require the council to find savings of Pounds 50m. Departments are being asked to prepare for 6 per cent cuts which equates to 600 job losses. Education would lose Pounds 18m (on top of this year's Pounds 12.8m). The controversial Pounds 250,000 raised in pre-five fees will not be available next year because charges are not allowed to supplement nursery vouchers.

* Highland (Independent)

May be forced to find Pounds 15m-Pounds 18m to comply with capping limits. All departments asked to consider effects of 15-17 per cent in cuts, which would remove Pounds 16m-Pounds 18m from an education service which has already seen five schools close and 14 advisory posts go this year. Hopes the damage can be limited to 6 per cent.

* Inverclyde (Labour)

Overall reductions of Pounds 2m are expected but Yvonne Robertson, the chair of education, said education and social work would be protected. (A Pounds 1.8m budget shortfall emerged in the course of the year which required only Pounds 80,000 from education.) It requires an assurance that the 3.5 per cent education cut of Pounds 1.5m imposed at the start of the year will not be repeated.

* Midlothian (Labour)

No clear view until the council's base budget is ready. Construction begins next week.

* Moray (SNP)

Up to Pounds 4m is expected to be lost across the board with education likely to bear half the cost, which would mean cuts of 5 per cent. The service lost Pounds 2m this year, a cut of 6 per cent. Kevin Gavin, director of education, comments: "If we get to that level, it will impact on staffing. It could not be anything other than that."

* North Ayrshire (Labour)

Hopes to contain reductions to this year's 2 per cent cut of Pounds 1. 2m.

* North Lanarkshire (Labour)

All departments are being asked for 3 per cent cuts, which could cost education up to Pounds 5m, as well as identifying growth areas in a three-year development plan. Michael O'Neill, the director of education, says music instruction, outdoor education, footwear and clothing grants, bursaries and school meals could suffer. "For the first time we would have to consider reductions in staffing, particularly in areas of priority treatment."

* Orkney (Independent)

Anticipating further cuts of around 3 per or Pounds 470,000 cent following this year's 2.5 per cent reduction.

* Perth and Kinross (SNP)

"The blackest financial situation any councillor can remember," Ewan Dow, the depute council leader, says. Precise figures are not yet available. This year's cut of Pounds 1.7m has had to be supplemented to avoid a Pounds 2.29m budget shortfall. Of that, Pounds 1.37m has still to be found.

* Renfrewshire (Labour)

Senior councillors and officials have been working on plans to axe up to 6 per cent, or Pounds 4.5m, from an already stretched budget. Shelagh Rae, director of education, says: "We have hit rock bottom and any further cuts will do severe damage." Staffing standards, increased charges, school closures, transport, community education and pre-fives could all be affected. Councillors feel education cannot be sheltered this time.

* Scottish Borders (Liberal DemocratIndependentSNPLabour)

Education, in common with other departments, has been asked to save 8 per cent, which would involve a loss of Pounds 3.4m on top of this year's Pounds 2m. Curriculum development, swimming lessons and outdoor education have suffered this year and staffing reductions are now "inescapable".

* Shetland (Independent)

Education officials are working to a "standstill" budget while the council grapples with cutting Pounds 5m by 2000. External consultants called in to recommend cuts in education and ferries, the two highest spenders, are likely to produce interim findings next month. Their targets will not necessarily be included in any cuts next year.

* South Ayrshire (Labour)

Prospects are "very serious indeed", Elaine Murray, the education convener, says. She predicts education cuts of between 4-6 per cent or up to Pounds 3m. School closures could be on the cards while areas like transport and music instruction would be hit.

* South Lanarkshire (Labour)

Councillors hope to contain reductions to this year's 2 per cent cut which removed just under Pounds 3m from education.

* Stirling (Labour)

A possible cut of around 2 per cent, or Pounds 1m, is anticipated.

* West Dunbartonshire (Labour)

No figures have been touted but Ian McMurdo, the director of education, describes the outlook as "extremely bleak". The council is conducting a trawl of staff who might be eligible for voluntary severance.

* West Lothian (Labour)

Education officials are working on cuts of between 3-5 per cent, which would mean a loss of Pounds 3-Pounds 4m, a repeat of this year's Pounds 3.3m.

* Western Isles (Independent)

The talk is cuts of 3 per cent or over and "an air of pessimism".

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