Swinney to appeal to Councils over jobs cuts
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 17:33
Finance Minister John Swinney is to meet council and trade union representatives in an attempt to sign local authorities up to the Scottish Government's policy of no compulsory redundancies.
Mr Swinney told Holyrood's Local Government and Communities Committee he is set to discuss the issue tomorrow with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC).
While giving evidence on his draft budget for 2011/12, he told the committee he wanted to avoid compulsory job losses across the public sector "at all costs".
While Mr Swinney admitted he has no control over local authorities' deployment of compulsory redundancies, he said he wanted to persuade council leaders to follow the Government's lead.
He said: "The characteristics of the Government's pay policy, which I am encouraging other public sector bodies to follow, are to protect head count and support those on low incomes.
"The meeting is to ensure we have dialogue with local authorities on how we can get to a point where all areas of the public sector are prepared to sign up to the Government's approach on avoiding compulsory redundancies."
Mr Swinney said other measures such as a pay freeze and severance pay schemes had to be looked at as an alternative.
He added: "If we don't constrain pay then we will have to go to head count.
"I want to avoid that at all costs."
Scottish councils are faced with a funding cut of at least 2.6% next year, and so far have not ruled out the option of compulsory redundancies.
Mr Swinney also faced questions from MSPs over whether the Christie Commission - set up to carry out a wide-ranging review of the delivery of Scotland's public services - could deliver plans for a redesign of services by June 2011.
He said he believed it could, and defended the Government's decision to launch the commission and set the deadline of June for it to report back.
He said: "If you say we'll give it 18 months, it will take 18 months.
"My view is, let's just get on with it."