West Lothian Council had to make tough decisions over the budget

Around �21million of cuts were proposed
Around �21million of cuts were proposed

The leader of West Lothian Council has said setting this year’s budget was the “toughest” decision ever – with over £21 million in cuts proposed.

Job losses and streamlining of some services are included in the draft budget which is due to come before the council executive on Tuesday.

The council has vowed to protect “the most vulnerable groups” in the community and has prioritised education, social care, infrastructure and anti–poverty measures.

Around 141 full time positions could be cut over the next two years but there is currently a no compulsory redundancy policy at the council.

Council leader John McGinty said: “With an increasing demand for services and limited funds available to us, preparing the council budget for 2016/17 has involved some of the toughest decisions that we have ever had to consider since the council was founded nearly 20 years ago.

“Across Scotland, councils are not being given enough funding to pay for the services that we want to provide.

“We are a well-run council and we have focussed on planning ahead for these very difficult times. By setting a three-year budget last year we were able to plan our savings in advance. We know that this approach is regarded as best practice by Audit Scotland and we believe that this has ensured that the impact on local communities and services is minimised.”

He admitted it was an “extremely difficult” time for local authorities but the decisions had to be made by law.

He said: “We have always been honest and open about the need to make changes to council services so that we can balance our budget with less funding available. By law, the council must balance its budget and we are not different to any household in that we can only spend the money we have available. We will always aim to do this in the best way possible for local residents and communities.”