Scotland

Councils look at merging services to cut costs

Classroom
Image caption One area being examined is the provision of education services

Two Scottish councils are looking at merging several key departments, it has emerged.

Midlothian Council and East Lothian Council are holding talks about setting up shared education and social work services and merging some back office functions.

The move comes against a background of several years of tight budgets being faced by councils across Scotland.

This could see a 12% real terms cut in funding over the next three years.

Midlothian said it was keen to look at how it can share services with other councils and talks have been taking place with neighbouring East Lothian.

Derek Milligan, leader of Midlothian Council, said: "These discussions are based around a shared education service, a shared social work service and shared back office functions.

"We're facing unprecedented cuts and know shared services will help save money while maintaining quality of service - but sharing services will not be the only answer and is one of a number of measures, including reviewing and potentially stopping some services, that we know we're going to have to take over the next few tough months and years."

Last year a report urged councils in the west of Scotland to consider working more closely together to help protect public services from cuts.

Sir John Arbuthnott's recommendations included the creation of a single shared roads maintenance service.

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