Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Cuts watch: Edinburgh, Fife and East

The consequences of cutting the UK's budget deficit are expected to be felt at every level of the public sector, including the services performed by Scotland's 32 councils.

BBC Scotland's news website asked local authorities in the Edinburgh and the East region how they thought they might be affected. Check out what they had to say.

EAST LOTHIAN COUNCIL

Size: The population of the council area stood at 96,830 in 2009. The authority employs 4,998 people.

Budget: £220.1m.

Funding squeeze: The council says it is unable to forecast spending over the next two years.

Options for savings: The authority is finalising plans to reduce it workforce costs by 12% over three years.

The authority said no schools had been closed due to impending cuts and there were no plans to make such closure plans.

East Lothian Council is also considering introducing charges for services which are currently free and reductions in street cleaning and bin collection services, although no firm decisions have yet been made.

The authority said that in line with the strongly held views expressed by residents during the budget consultation, there would be no library closures.

The council believes it can generate more income through increased charges - including bringing burial charges up to the Scottish average, and raising other charges such as those for adult education classes, industrial rents, school meals and trade waste.

There will be no cutbacks in road reconstruction and winter maintenance and extra capital expenditure is planned on roads.

The council will no longer maintain floral hanging basket displays and will look in the longer-term to more sustainable planting.

A new three-year financial strategy has been approved by the council, highlighting the need to make cumulative real-term cuts of around 14%.

The authority said it would continue to work with neighbouring authorities in the Edinburgh, Lothian, Borders and Fife areas on potential shared services, joint procurement and alternative ways of delivering services.

The council's no compulsory redundancy policy is still in place at this time.

EDINBURGH CITY

Size: The population of the council area stood at 477,660 in 2009. The authority employs 20,142 people.

Budget: Total revenue budget for 2010-11 is £1,038.2m.

Funding squeeze: The council will have to make estimated savings of £94m in the next three years, including a 12% reduction in employee costs.

Options for savings: Four schools are closing in December under a policy to shut "under-occupied" schools, saving £5m in running costs over five years, while the authority hopes to raise £3.25m from the sale of former school sites.

The council said: "By closing under-occupied schools we can limit the money wasted on empty places and we can continue to invest in the school estate.

"If schools weren't closed then every other school in the city would face a budget cut of £12,100 each on top of existing pressures - equivalent to 30 teachers across the city."

Aside from those measures, the council said it would not speculate on what may be in the forthcoming budget.

The council has begun to employ less staff with 394 fewer employees than a year ago with reductions in both permanent and temporary staff.

This reduction has been achieved by a range of measures including planned retirement, natural wastage and unfilled vacancies.

The council said that in order to realise the level of savings required in the next three years a reduction of about 12% in employee costs was necessary.

It added: "The resulting actual percentage reduction in headcount will depend on the progress made in other work streams including service prioritise and management restructuring."

Despite the impending cuts, the authority is building two new libraries, creating another within a neighbourhood office and refurbishing a further library.

Councillors agree 300 job cuts

Rally against school budget cuts

FIFE COUNCIL

Size: The population of the council area stood at 363,460 in 2009. The authority employs about 22,000 people.

Budget: £802m for 2010/11.

Funding squeeze: Cuts of about £120m over the next four years.

Options for savings: More than 1,800 posts are set to be cut at Fife Council.

The cuts are being made as part of a plan to reduce the local authority's budget by almost £120m over the next four years.

Deputy leader Elizabeth Riches said the job losses would occur as part of a programme of "efficiencies".

The cuts are expected to affect about 9% of the council's 22,000 staff by March 2011.

The authority has also warned that staffing levels may need to fall by as much as 15% by 2014.

The council wants staff to consider taking voluntary redundancy, early retirement or cutting their contracted hours.

The SNP/Lib Dem-controlled council announced a freeze on recruitment earlier this year.

Key areas have had to take a hit from the cuts, including reductions to the free school meals scheme, fewer new bus routes and grants to voluntary organisations are now under review.

Fife Council to lose 1,800 staff

MIDLOTHIAN COUNCIL

Size: The population of the council area stood at 80,810 in 2009. The authority employs 3,890 people.

Budget: Figure not obtained.

Funding squeeze: Midlothian Council says it is likely to lose more than £25m over the next four years in funding.

Options for savings: In its online newspaper, Midlothian Council said it had to "radically change" the way it worked, to improve services for its customers, and allow it to meet the challenges of "severe central government budget cuts".

Midlothian Council is likely to lose more than £25m over the next four years in funding from the Scottish Government.

Council Leader Councillor Derek Milligan said: "We are facing some horrendous choices as a result of central government cuts and are trying to get the council to a position where we can continue to provide excellent services for the people of Midlothian.

"We need to be aware of the pain to come, and be aware of the danger of cutting spending too quickly, which most people warn could make the recession worse.

"That's why we've been able to limit changes this year - though we are under no illusions that even these cuts are painless."

The council made savings of £3.2m in the budget for 2010/11.

The authority will cut its staffing levels through not filling vacancies and making redundancies. It said it would fund the redundancy packages through a special "transformation fund". It added that at present there were not plans to outsource services.

Midlothian officials will review their charging policy and new charges may be brought forward in the future.

In a report to the council, Ian Jackson, director of corporate services, said: "There is a risk that the financial position for the Council will become much more severe post 2010/11 and each pound of additional growth next year will exacerbate the financial position."

At-a-glance: Scotland's council jobs toll

WEST LOTHIAN COUNCIL

Size: The population of the council area stood at 171,040 in 2009. The authority employs 7,000 people.

Budget: £385.7m budget for 2010-11

Funding squeeze: The local authority was planning for £45m worth of cuts over the next three years.

Options for savings: The council is currently consulting on options. A spokeswoman said: "We are currently conducting a wide consultation 'Tough Choices' and no decisions will be made until after November."

In a submission to the Scottish government regarding future budgets, West Lothian Council said it would concentrate its reduced resources on delivering key priorities.

It insisted it would take an "innovative approach" to service provision, reduce or discontinue activities which make a limited contribution and actively pursue partnership working with civic centre partners.

Officials added: "The council is currently undertaking a major consultation with stakeholders on a contingency strategy to make savings of £45m which consists of efficiencies of £25m (56%), increasing charges or reducing subsidies of £9m (20%) and service changes totalling £11m (24%).

"Therefore, it is inevitable that, despite major work on efficiencies, reductions of the magnitude envisaged will in some areas impact on service levels and outcomes."

The council said there was a need for "an early as possible notification" from the Scottish government on the finance settlement for 2011/12.

Lothian council jobs under threat

In June, BBC Scotland news asked Scotland's 32 councils 11 questions ranging from how many staff they employed to whether they had to close schools and libraries due to spending cuts. About two-thirds responded over the following months. Of those that did not, a number explained they could not answer the questions until a fuller picture of budgets was known.