Extra cuts could damage services, says Smith

The council’s education department will have to find an extra £700,000 of savings this year, prompting a senior councillor to voice fears of damage to frontline services.

The need for additional cuts arose after council-wide “director­ate” savings of £2.2 million were allocated to different SIC depart­ments.

The sum comes on top of approved £2.5 million education savings in 2012/13, of which £1.4 million has been “banked” so far. Vice-chairman of the education and families committee George Smith said he found news of the extra savings “incredible”.

Praising Hayfield staff for their “diligence” in working towards the savings target set in the spring, Mr Smith said the imposition of more cuts halfway through the year risked making the department look bad.

Children’s services director Helen Budge said it was always the intention for the £2.2 million to be found from across the different departments.

Her budget was always going to swallow the biggest share because it is the most costly council service.

But she conceded the manner in which the savings were accounted for had muddied the picture: “We as directors do not want to see that hap­pen again,” she said on Wednesday.

Education cuts form part of an overall £15.4 million savings target for 2012/13, as the local authority strives to preserve what remains of its battered oil reserves.

Other departments will face the following additional cuts: chief executive’s office £41,000; com­munity care £363,000; corporate services £246,000; development £296,000, and infrastructure £342,000.

Mrs Budge told The Shetland Times she was confident her depart­ment would not need to make compulsory redundancies this win­ter.

She said reducing the wage bill was being approached in a planned fashion using temporary appoint­ments, retirals and by not replacing staff who leave. Next year, the SIC plans to begin consulting on closing several schools, including Aith, Sandwick, Skerries and Whalsay secondaries, to save a further £3 million.


Add Your Comment
  • Stewart Mack

    • November 8th, 2012 16:59

    Good to see Mr Smith is worried about making the department “look bad” asking for more cuts mid year. I hadnt realised “looking bad” was on their criteria for considering cuts but live and learn as they say.

    Its not a “fear” of cuts to front line services, that is the reality, week in week out – Just stating the obvious since some Councillors seem to have missed what cuts do.


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