The number of local government employees in Dumfries and Galloway has fallen to its lowest level since the Scottish Parliament was establsihed, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has revealed.
In the first quarter of 2000, there were 7,400 employees of Dumfries and Galloway Council (5,500 full-time equivalents).
The number peaked at 8,700 in the first quarter of 2006 (a full-time equivalent of 6,500) during last full year of the previous Labour led Scottish Executive.
However, under the current SNP Government the number of employees has falling to 7,200 (a full-time equivalent of 5,200) in the final quarter of 2017 – a massive 1,500 job losses under the SNP.
In their recent budget, Dumfries and Galloway Council explained how they have had to make £86m of savings since 2010- with this year’s funding gap of £13.023m filled through a 3% rise in council tax and savings of £10.979m.
If the current policy of austerity from Government continues it is estimated the council will have to make further savings of £48m over the next three years.
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “The fact that the Council has had to axe jobs because of Scottish Government cuts won’t come as a surprise to anyone. However, few people will have realised the scale of those cuts, with 1,500 jobs going in the last decade under the SNP and this excluded the hundreds of police and fire service job losses we have seen in the area”.
“This devastating level of job cuts not only impacts on the delivery of many local council services but the whole local economy suffers, with local shops and other businesses seeing a downturn a fall in income”.
“Council services are crucial in the fight against poverty and delivering education and social care so these job losses hurt the poorest the hardest because they rely on those services most”.
“What is so frustrating about these massive jobs cuts is the fact that they don’t need to happen. Instead of the SNP government taking Tory austerity and passing it straight on to councils and local communities through cuts, they could have used the tax powers of the Scottish Parliament to block austerity”.
“In the recent budget Scottish Labour set out plans to stop the cuts by asking the richest to pay a bit more and giving new powers to councils to raise income through a tax on vacant land and a social responsibility levy on alcohol sales. Instead we had an SNP budget that has meant a further £10 million of cuts and increases in council tax in Dumfries and Galloway and as a result of that budget the number of council staff is going to plummet by several hundred more. It is little wonder the local economy in Dumfries and Galloway is in such a precarious position. The last thing our area needs just now is yet more job losses.”
Source: Local government employment figures available at Table 9 for total staff numbers and table 16 for full time equivalent here