Budget will hit young and vulnerable the hardest

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Huge budget cuts that could descimate Argyll & Bute’s community learning support for young people and vulnerable adults are on the council’s hit list for 2020.

The proposed cuts, understood to be around 26 per cent, would slash the vital service supporting pupils and vulnerable adults to less than half the size it was before last year’s budget impacted.

The Oban Times understands every council department is being asked to make savings of seven per cent and in education that equates to about £1.8million. Across the council, a funding gap of £9.2m is being estimated.

Because schools and teachers are statutory services they can not be touched, leaving pupil support and psychological services a target for the biggest cuts.  Jobs at risk will include the likes of classroom and additional support assistants.

A  reliable source, who did not want to be named, said: ‘Anything that’s not statutory and nailed down is up for cuts. It’s crazy.  It will decimate the service. The biggest issue here is who this will impact – not just the workers, but the young people and the neediest adults. They will be hurt the most and they can’t do anything about it. What will happen for the 2021 budget will they wipe the services out? The council will say it has tough decisions to make but they do still have choices.’

The source said there was ‘a lack of empathy and understanding’ and warned: ‘It’s going to get messy. People are not happy, they will be mobilising.’

The Youth and Adult Learning Service, renamed Community Learning Service in July,  took a huge budget battering last year when despite protests from high school pupils across Argyll, the council agreed to cut 17.1 full-time equivalent posts – more than half of the service’s staff at that time. The council had to deal with a funding gap of almost £8 million.

Yesterday, October 9, was the deadline for workers whose jobs could be affected by any looming cuts to be informed.

An Argyll and Bute spokesperson said: ‘We are having discussions with employees across various council services about options for making savings in 2020/21. No decisions will be made until the budget-setting meeting in February 2020.

‘The majority of our funding comes from the Scottish Government. Year on year cuts mean we have had to make £57m in savings since 2010. We don’t know yet what our allocation will be for next year but estimates are that we will have a funding gap of £9.2m.

‘We have identified savings options that would go towards us bridging this gap.’

Argyll and Bute’s Policy and Resources Committee meets on Thursday October 17 and papers for that session outlining savings options to be considered, go public today (October 10) at argyll-bute.gov.uk