Council budget spares pupil assistants

Argyll and Bute Council

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Pupil support assistants are set to be spared the axe as part of Argyll and Bute Council’s budget-setting process in February.

Councillors have also decided that school crossing patrollers will be safe – even though those posts were not explicitly mentioned in the most recent list of savings options.

A report which went before the council’s policy and resources committee at its December meeting showed that pupil support assistants were one of many savings options being proposed.

It was estimated that scrapping them would have seen 38 jobs lost, but councillors overseeing the budget process have confirmed that it will not be recommended.

However, the report in December did not mention in detail school crossing patrollers, whose posts have been under scrutiny as part of the last two budgets. The savings option was not taken by the council on either occasion.

The authority will set its 2021/22 budget at a Skype meeting on Thursday, February 25.

The authority’s depute leader, Helensburgh Central Conservative councillor Gary Mulvaney, who chairs the council’s budget working group, said: ‘The working group that we put in place to look at this year’s budget, and which includes cross party members, unanimously agreed that potential savings around pupil support assistants and school crossing patrollers should not be taken. That is our recommendation to members.

‘While the council will not finally consider its budget until the end of February, and there are undoubtedly still difficult long term decisions to be made to safeguard services within tight public finances, it made sense meantime to provide some reassurance to those particular staff affected.’

Other savings options which were also listed for the policy and resources committee in December included streamlining the council’s property estate, reducing grass cutting services and holding more meetings virtually to cut down on councillors’ expenses.