'Tough decisions' warning despite 70% cash gap fall

A COUNCIL'S funding gap is to be reduced by 70%, a report claims.

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Inverclyde councillors are hearing today how the difference between income and spending for the next three years can been reduced from £15.9million to just over £4.7m.

But, before the meet-ing of the full council at its municipal buildings in Greenock, council leader Councillor Stephen McCabe has warned that tough decisions remain.

Last month councill-ors took the decisions which reduced the funding gap until 2016 from £15.9m to £8m.

The latest update being put before councillors recomm-ends further decisions which, if agreed, would cut the gap by a further £3.3m.

Council leader, Councillor Stephen McCabe, said: "As far as essential services our residents rely on, it is welcome news that the £15.9m budget gap can be reduced by 70%.

"That means essential services can be offered more protection."

But, he added: "We should be under no illusions that the budget pressure on the council is enormous.

"The council has worked hard to reduce the overall budget gap between now and 2016 and that work will have a tremendous effect in helping to avoid drastic changes to the services people in our community rely on."

He said the gap remains large but suggested working together with a shared vision of how to deliver "valuable services in a climate where every business, every citizen and every public service is being pressed" would be the way forward.

Proposals agreed last month to cut the gap include changes to the way the council has calculated the bill for pay awards to its staff.

The report to councillors today added: "The latest estimated funding shortfall in the 2013/16 Revenue Budget is £4.74million.

"Proposals will require to be agreed in February 2013 to fully close the funding gap to allow the Council to set a balanced 2013/16 Revenue Budget."

ewan.fergus@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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