West Lothian leisure staff cuts costs met

West Lothian council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick
West Lothian council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick

West Lothian Council has agreed to cover more than £200,000 for staff cuts  at West Lothian Leisure (WLL) as part of the Trust’s  changes .

The council provides WLL with an annual management fee for managing the council’s sport and recreational facilities. The management fee in 2019/20 will total over £2.9 million. However WLL has requested the management fee be “re-profiled” to provide early retirement and severance packages for some staff.

The changes are an important part of WLL’s three year plan which was approved by the WLL Board last December and is already underway. The plan includes a number of service changes and budget reduction measures.

The Council Executive  agreed to provide financial support for severance packages totalling £230,000. This increases the management fee to be paid to WLL over the period of their three year plan. However the annual management fee paid to WLL by the council will be reduced over the following eight years to offset the amount ‘re-profiled’.

WLL’s projected income in 2019/20 is £12.4m, including the management fee from the council. Leisure income amounts to approximately £8.4m.

Council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: “The council has agreed to the request from WLL to provide support for severance and early retirement packages for WLL staff.

“Unfortunately WLL has been affected by increased competition over recent years and is in the process of making changes to their business.  The re-profiling on the management fee will help them to progress with some elements of their three-year plan and move forward.”

WLL began to experience financial challenges in 2016/17 which were caused largely by reduced membership income as a result of increased competition from the private sector. The council agreed to support WLL by rescheduling debt of nearly £1m in 2016/17. In 2018 the council agreed that further support for one-off resources would be provided up to £1.2m, which allowed WLL to balance their budget.