Children and families in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Clydebank will be hardest hit under budget saving proposals drawn up by West Dunbartonshire Council, local Labour politicians have warned.
The SNP-led council will consider an overall package of cuts worth £13 million over the next three years, including £3.74 million of cuts which directly target local schools and families. The individual budgets for each school in Dumbarton, Clydebank and the Vale of Leven would be slashed by up to 10% under the plans.
The proposals would also see the back-to-school clothing grant and Education Maintenance Allowance slashed in half for working-class families. The previous Labour administration doubled the grants to help support children from less well-off backgrounds but West Dunbartonshire Council is now considering cutting them back down to the statutory minimum.
The proposals also contain plans to end central council funding for free swimming lessons, swap hot school meals with a sandwich on Fridays and ready-meals would replace freshly prepared ingredients in school canteens.
There would be dozens of job losses for low-paid council workers, including at least 30 school catering staff, 35 cleaners and 40 lollipop men and women. Councillors will consider asking volunteers to take over the roles of paid school crossing patrollers on every route in West Dunbartonshire.
The budget savings document published by West Dunbartonshire Council today contains over £3 million worth of cuts to education services but there are additional £715,000 of proposals to cut school funding in the council’s ‘management adjustments’ which have not yet been published.
These decisions, taken by council officers not elected members, would scrap free school milk at lunchtime for primary school pupils and force secondary school pupils to clean their own classrooms.
Local MSP Jackie Baillie said:
“Nicola Sturgeon’s promise to make education her top priority will be utterly meaningless if the SNP-led Council goes ahead with these plans. You cannot cut the attainment gap between the richest and the rest in our classrooms while cutting budgets for schools.
“Local parents, teachers and staff working in our schools will be outraged by many of these proposals and it is a sign of just how difficult it is for the Council to make ends meet thanks to SNP budget cuts from Edinburgh.
“The Scottish Government will decide how much funding West Dunbartonshire Council receives for local services this month and the SNP Finance Minister needs to make a choice. Derek Mackay can either copy-and-paste previous SNP budgets which have slashed our local council’s funding every year or use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to invest instead.”
Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Martin Rooney, said:
“Low-income families and low-paid council staff will be the biggest losers under the proposals to scrap Labour’s clothing grant top-up and lose dozens of jobs from school janitors and catering staff.
“Labour councillors will work with local parents, teachers and trade unions to defend schools in West Dunbartonshire and protect jobs