By Monica Gibson

HUNDREDS of jobs are set to be axed across East Renfrewshire as council chiefs grapple with a multi-million pound funding shortfall.

The Barrhead News can reveal that around 300 council posts are at risk, with union leaders vowing to fight widespread redundancies.

Steven Larkin, secretary of Unison’s East Renfrewshire branch, said: “It doesn’t matter if it is voluntary redundancies or compulsory – to us, it means jobs that are no longer going to be there.

“We will be fighting this and promise to do everything we can to mitigate the losses.”

East Renfrewshire Council (ERC) is in the process of preparing its budget for 2018-21 but won’t be able to finalise its plans until the Scottish Government announces the local authority’s grant settlement in December.

The Barrhead News has learned that council bosses expect to have to make savings in the region of £26million over the next three years.

That will come on top of £37m of savings already made since 2012.

And, as the purse strings tighten, the local authority’s workforce of just over 4,500 is set to be trimmed.

Council leaders hope to limit the need for compulsory redundancies.

New roles and retraining opportunities have also been promised to reflect changes in the local authority’s needs.

Over the next few years, the council expects more than 200 new ‘early years’ support roles to be created as it works to implement new government targets.

Therefore, according to an ERC spokesperson, it is anticipated there will be around 100 fewer posts by 2021.

Mr Larkin said: “The union appreciates the dilemma the council is in.
“If they are getting a smaller piece of the pie, then it is difficult, but the new jobs are not going to be like for like.

“If people are not working, it is going to create more problems down the line.

“At the moment, these are potential cuts. Our fears are that these job losses become a reality.”

The council is to launch a public consultation on Monday which will contribute to decision-making about where and how hundreds of millions of pounds should be spent across East Renfrewshire once the 2018-21 budget is finalised.

Councillor Tony Buchanan, leader of ERC, said: “I would encourage all local people to get involved and have their say when the proposals are put forward next week.

“Our budget covers a huge range of services, including our schools, roads, parks, health and social care, cleansing and housing.

“We have always taken a long-term strategic approach to budget setting, which is why we’re planning for three years.

“Millions of pounds worth of efficiencies achieved through more modern ways of working have already helped to off-set the impact of the savings needed on frontline services to date.”

The consultation will be open until Tuesday, November 28, with the final budget being decided by elected members at a meeting of the full council on February 8 next year.

The Scottish Government is expected to announce its final annual settlement for local authorities on December 14.