SNP disappointment at council cuts to education and elderly care

SCOTTISH National Party councillors say they are disappointed at the outcome of the council’s spending review for the coming financial year.

Party members say they presented budget proposals that included a council tax freeze and a redirection of resources to tackle the deep rooted problems of the council and community planning.

South Ayrshire party leader Douglas Campbell said they had set out a number of key themes and priorities including support families and mitigating the effects of increasing child poverty caused by Welfare Reform and the economic downturn; maintaining improvement in education attainment for all children and to close the attainment gap for looked after and supported children.

Douglas Campbell said: “Our belief is that all members of the council should seek an element of consensus when deciding the key priorities. We remain disappointed that that the Labour and Conservative exclude us from all decisions. Everyone has good ideas and if we are going to make the necessary reforms we need to capitalise on everybody working together.

“Had we the opportunity we wanted a review of the rent increase. It cannot be fair to expect low income families whose wages or benefits are being cut in real terms to find the money for a 5.2% rent rise. If we are looking for efficiencies in schools and elderly care why are rents excluded? We have no intention and there is no need to affect modernisation programmes which are sorely needed.”

Councillor McFarlane said: “Councillor Miller set the scene for the improvements which the Council is making in support of elderly care arrangements which I set in place as the Portfolio Carrier. However there comes a point where after making efficiency savings of a £1 million per year, year on year, becomes a burden on the delivery of services. To take a further £625,000 out the service will put severe strain on our ability to look after some of our most vulnerable residents.

“I think that the change to care packages for older people will potentially result in fewer older people receiving care packages when they require them and is likely to lead to the introduction of a waiting list for care at home services at lower level of eligibility.

“I also think that the cuts to current home care packages and assistance to families where a member has Learning Difficulties could result in a reduced standard of care at home from that currently provided. It will be dependent on family members and others who will need to be prepared to provide higher level of support. I doubt whether private and third sector providers have the margins available to provide level of service required for a lower budget figure.”

Councillor Ian Douglas said: “We are also deeply disappointed that £465,000 is being removed from the education budget. Funding that is directly associated with providing additional support to ensure that our all children can achieve their potential. To say that we are investing £100,000 each in golf and allotments I’m sure will be no comfort to the parents of those children who will find support for their child cut.”