Published 22 February 2024

A range of budget savings options will be considered by elected members next month to close the Council’s remaining £8.3m budget gap.

A first tranche of savings options and management adjustments, combined with the financial benefit from the reduction to the Council’s employer pension contribution rate, were approved at a meeting of Council in December reducing the budget gap from its initial £17.3million.

Now additional changes have been proposed by officers across a number of services in a second tranche to be considered by councillors.

Proposals aim to make savings while, as far as possible, protecting the key frontline services relied on most by the community.

Among them is an option to cease collection of garden waste or introduce a charge for its collection, which would potentially generate £180,000 in 2024/25, increasing to £360,000 in future years.

In Education, councillors will consider options including the introduction of Early Start Clubs at schools providing breakfast and care with associated fees for pupils not entitled to a free school meal generating income of up to £280,000; reducing use of text messages to communicate with parents and carers saving £30,000 over three years; and aligning the school clothing grant with statutory provision of £120 per primary pupil to save £52,000 rising to £79,000 in future years.

Consideration will also be given to reducing the opening hours of Clydebank Town Hall; a reduction in grant funding provided to the Highland Games and other organisations; and the reduction of pitch maintenance costs by replacing six under utilised grass pitches with three new 4G pitches, saving £110,000 over three years.

Options to lease or close two bowling clubs could realise savings of £50,000 in the first year, rising to £101,000 in years two and three, while a proposal to review park maintenance brings a potential saving of £181,000 for 2024/25, rising to £363,000 for 2025/26 and 26/27.

The options will be discussed and considered at a meeting of full Council on Wednesday 6 March, with no decisions taken before that date.

Council Chief Executive Peter Hessett said: “The Council, like other authorities across the country, continues to operate in an extremely challenging financial landscape, and while nobody wants to see cuts made to our services, our situation is stark. We have a legal obligation to deliver a balanced budget and finite resources to deliver our services in the same way. Officers have undertaken a significant amount of work while preparing these budget options, which seek to close the gap while also striving to minimise the impact on our communities and employees.

“I recognise the publication of these options will be unsettling for residents who rely on services and are already experiencing challenges due to the cost of living. Sadly, the Council is not immune from those same pressures: inflation, interest rates, increased fuel and utility costs, combined with the funding the Council will receive from the Scottish Government amounting to a real-terms decrease compared with 2023/24.

 “These are proposals at this stage and no decision will be made until they are considered by Councillors at the Council meeting on the 6th of March.”

Full details on all of the savings options being presented to Council are available on the website.