Cuts watch: North East, Orkney and Shetland

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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 North East, Orkney and Shetland how they thought they might be affected. Check out what they had to say.


Size: The population of the council area stood at 213,810 in 2009. The authority employs about 10,000.

Budget: £588.1m for 2010/11.

Funding fall: Savings of £120m over five years.

Options for savings: The residents of Aberdeen know more about council cuts than many. Two years ago - before the need to cut public spending nationally - the council faced painful decisions as a result of earlier overspending.

Now, in line with every other Scottish council, it has to contemplate savings - £120m worth over five years.

Savings are difficult for all authorities, but Aberdeen would argue that many of the supposedly easier options were explored two years ago when it had to deal with its own, unique financial situation.

Last year it ruled out proposals to close schools, libraries, swimming pools, an outdoor centre and a museum. Earlier this year it came close to ending incremental pay rises for staff.

The council assessed that suspending incremental rises would save £4.5m in this financial year. However, councillors decided in June that they would suspend making a decision on the matter.

The council said it expected its government grant would be reduced by at least £80m up to 2014/15 and would face £40m of "additional cost pressures".

But the authority insisted its aim was to continue to deliver essential services.


Size: The population of the council area stood at 243,510 in 2009. The authority employs about 14,000 (including teachers).

Budget: Revenue budget of £550m for 2010/11.

Funding fall: Councillors have instructed officials to prepare a draft revenue budget for 2011 to 2013 based on a £73m budget cut.

Options for savings: Aberdeenshire Council said it was undertaking a "fundamental review" of its revenue budget in order to "prepare for the detailed information which is expected through the UK spending review later this month and through the grant settlement which will be announced by the Scottish Government later in the year.

A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said: "It is premature to talk about the council's budget before we see the impact of the UK Government announcement and also how this will relate to Scottish government policies that may also affect our own future decisions.

"We will embark on a major programme of engagement with all groups that may be affected by any budget changes, staff, unions, residents and politicians on what will be a radical review of our finances.

"We need to make measured decisions on all of the information available nationally and locally and will keep people informed regularly about the council's finances to encourage an open and honest approach to budgeting for the future and deliver the best value for our residents."

Aberdeenshire Council said that no schools or leisure facilities had been closed "due to the current climate" and similarly there had been no reduction in hours on economic grounds.


Size: The population of the council area stood at 87,660 in 2009. The authority employs 5,200.

Budget: Revenue budget of £210m for 2010/11.

Funding fall: Councillors agree the need to find "substantial" savings for beyond 2010/11.

Options for savings: Opening hours at council libraries, swimming pools and community facilities will be cut.

Elgin High School improvements and a proposed regional sports centre have been deferred.

The council said it was "with considerable regret and sadness" that the two schemes would have to be out on hold.

The chairman of Moray Council's policy and resources committee, Allan Wright, added that while the school improvements and sports centre appeared on the capital plan for the future it "would be wrong to say other than that hopes have taken a severe setback".

The council also suffered a financial setback because of exceptionally bad weather which added £1.7m to revenue spending.

Councillor Wright said of the budget consultation for 2010/11: "I applaud the people of Moray for the way they participated in such a wholehearted way and the understanding they displayed that we were entering uncharted waters in terms of required savings.

"Having saved £5m from the revenue budget and £3.3m from the capital budget, we will have to go away and do the same thing again for this time next year - and for the year after that."


Size: The population of the council area stood at 19,960 in 2009. The authority employs about 2,039.

Budget: About £90m for 2010/11

Funding fall: A reduction of between £9m and £18m by the end of 2013/14.

Options for savings: In August, Orkney Islands Council launched an internet-based public consultation exercise by asking members of the public to offer their suggestions on how to make major savings over the next three years.

Like all of Scotland's 32 councils, the authority expects to face a "big cut" in funding from the government.

Orkney Islands Council convener, Councillor Stephen Hagan, said: "We may be faced with a total budget cut of between £9m and £18m between 2011 and 2014. It's a huge reduction and it will have a big impact on jobs and the many services we provide."

The council said the exercise, which attracted more than 140 responses, would help shape future thinking.

Orkney Islands Council spends close to £90m each year in delivering a wide range of services.

The authority will discover later this year how much its grant from the Scottish government will be cut by over the next three years.

The council has said: "This is why we are facing tough times - and why tough choices will have to be made.

"Every effort will be made to protect key services. But we may have to look at new ways to provide even the most vital services in future.

"Others, much valued by the people who use them, may have to be cut back or even dropped. That is how serious the situation is.

"The council is committed to engaging fully with staff, the trade unions, partner organisations, the people who use our services, and the wider Orkney community on the best way forward."


Size: The population of the council area stood at 22,210 in 2009. The authority employs 2,959 whole time equivalent staff.

Budget: £105m budget for 2010/11.

Funding fall: A funding fall will require substantial revenue savings in the areas of operating costs, insurance cover and improvements in procurement.

Options for savings: Senior managers from the council, NHS Shetland, Shetland Charitable Trust, Voluntary Action Shetland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Northern Constabulary and Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue are to look at public finance and agree ways of working better.

In the health sector the council is keen to see resources used to "optimum effect".

The authority said there was an assumption that vacancies would not be filled across the council unless "there was a compelling service need". All options would be considered in order to manage staffing, including voluntary and compulsory redundancy; redeployment, restricted recruitment, reduction in hours worked, flexible working, early retirement and job and service redesign.

Shetland Council has no specific plans for outsourcing in the coming year.

Councillors agreed to introduce charging for music instrument tuition in schools and there would be an overview of the council's overall charging policy as part of wider efficiency reviews.

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.