FEARS that job losses could run into the hundreds have been voiced as Renfrewshire Council chiefs look to save £25 million in just three years, writes Jack Thomson

The local authority has confirmed plans to tackle a predicted £45 million budget gap for the period 2020 to 2023, leading a union worker to warn of “the end of public services as we know it”.

The need to manage the workforce over the three year period was described as “inevitable” in a council report - dubbed ‘Right for Renfrewshire’ - by the chief executive and director of Finance and Resources.

The challenges come as ambitious plans to add 9,000 jobs to the local economy by 2030 were revealed by business leaders on Friday.

John McMenemy, GMB Renfrewshire branch secretary, said: “My fear is what we’re looking at is the end of public services as we know it.

“I’m talking about non-statutory council services, which include bins, street cleaning and the wardens service.

“I am genuinely concerned the job losses will run into the many hundreds, as £45 million is a massive gap in funding.

“There’s no flesh left on the bone to cut, so there’s going to have to be a serious conversation about the planned savings.”

The council will review existing short term contracts and determine if there is a need for them to be extended.

However, according to the report, it has been considered “unlikely” this and other measures will generate “an adequate reduction in workforce numbers” over the three years.

As a result, the council will gauge workers’ interest on voluntary redundancy or early retirement from services under review.

The local authority has recognised the potential scenario of existing employees who want to stay at the council being displaced from their current roles.

In those circumstances it would look to redeploy workers into another job.

Plans are in place to work with service directors to “develop and deliver a range of smaller scale service led efficiencies” and “identify budget reallocation opportunities”.

Increasing the council tax as part of the annual budget setting process also remains an option.

The report was debated at Wednesday’s Leadership Board and, while some councillors called for the report to be rejected, a majority voted for its approval.

Renfrewshire Council has since released a statement.

It said: “Right for Renfrewshire will review all aspects of the way we work and the services we deliver to ensure we are sustainable for the long term and continue to deliver the services many people rely on – this is a priority.

“There are a number of factors we need to manage now and in the future. These include growing demand for our services, our changing population, changes to the way we work and how people expect to use our services and managing increasing cost pressures.

“As a council we are constantly changing and have a good track record in making changes to improve the services we deliver to communities, while supporting our workforce and improving our efficiency.

“We expect the programme will change the size and composition of our workforce and this will be carefully managed through reviewing contract arrangements, managing our vacancies, voluntary redundancy and voluntary early retirement, redeployment and re-training. Staff and trade unions will continue to be consulted throughout the programme.”

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