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North Lanarkshire Cuts Risk Truancy Success

Thursday, February 18, 2016
North Lanarkshire Success In Tackling School Truancy At Risk As All Truancy Officers Face Sack In Council Spending Cuts

Scottish Government’s aim of closing the attainment gap is not compatible with budget cuts that have a direct and damaging impact on children's education says GMB Scotland.

GMB Scotland has learned via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request that unauthorised absence in North Lanarkshire schools was reduced from 482,569 days in 2010 to 294,195 days in 2015.

This successful annual reduction of over 188,000 days is now under threat. All 12 of the Attendance Officers, whose job is to support head teachers in managing pupil attendance and absence from schools, are set to lose their jobs as part of the proposed 1,150 jobs losses at the council. See Notes to Editors for summary of data from North Lanarkshire FOI, details of proposed cuts in parts of North Lanarkshire budgets and copies of previous GMB Scotland press release on local government cuts.

The same Freedom of Information request showed the number of pupils with learning disabilities and special needs has increased significantly since 2010, from 3,036 to 4,154 in 2015. However North Lanarkshire Council could cut the number of classroom assistants in their schools by 50% which would see a reduction in full-time equivalent jobs from the current level of 263 to 131.5.

Cuts proposals considered at the Policy and Resources Committee on 28th Oct 2015 could see as many as 426 jobs cut in Learning and Leisure Services, cuts of 477 jobs Housing and Social Work Services, 143 jobs lost in Regeneration and Environmental Services and 33 in Finance and Customer Services. The next meeting is on 17th March 2016.(see Notes to Editors for a for full list of proposed cuts).

Other proposals and cuts in the Learning and Leisure Services include employees being made to pay for their own disclosure check; introduction of team cleaning methods in secondary schools and reduce cleaning specification in teaching classrooms; a review of janitorial arrangements; reduce service provision in 10 Family Learning Centres to term-time only; remove free fruit for primary 1-3 pupils; remove central funding for all out of school learning activities including Easter and summer study schools; reduce the number of additional support needs assistants for S5 and S6 pupils with less complex needs.

Paul Grieve, GMB Scotland regional organiser, said "What is happening in North Lanarkshire shows exactly what the Scottish Government's cuts to Local Authority budgets means to real people. The proposed cuts in education are horrendous and will have a real impact on young people's opportunity to get the best out of the education system.

The Scottish Governments stated objective of closing the attainment gap is not compatible with budget cuts that have a direct and damaging impact on children's education.

The slashing of over 130 classroom assistant jobs, despite an increase in the number of pupils with Learning Disabilities and Special Needs will have a devastating and catastrophic impact on the education of thousands of pupils and teachers who rely on the dedicated support offered by classroom assistants.

Unauthorised absence reduction has been a success in North Lanarkshire, a huge reduction of over 188,000 days from 2010 to 2015. This success is due, in part, to Attendance Officers whose job is to support head teachers in managing pupil attendance and absence from schools. One of the budget proposals is to save £292,000 by scrapping all 12 posts.

Have we got to the point in Scotland when we need to take away free fruit from primary pupils in years 1 to 3 and cut central funding for all out of school learning activities including Easter and summer study schools?

It is regrettable that the Scottish Parliament rejected the proposal to add 1p on income tax with the rebate for the lower paid. This would have gone some way to reverse the erosion of the tax base in Scotland where the eight year freeze in council tax has led to a loss of £450m per year which councils would have had if council tax had kept pace with inflation.

This erosion of the tax base only applies in Scotland and can only be remedied in Scotland. Above all there is a need to end the policy of paying for local government in Scotland by “robbing Peter to pay Paul ". It is not right that wealthy Scottish households pay less council tax in real terms than eight years ago leading to cuts to jobs and services in Scotland’s least affluent areas.”

End

Contact: Paul Grieve 07912 894960 or Alex McLuckie 07885 348269 or GMB Scotland 0141 332 8641 or GMB Press Office 07921 289880 or 07974 251823 or 07860 401860.

Notes to Editors

1 GMB Scotland submitted a Freedom of Information request to North Lanarkshire Council in December 2015. The table below summarises the data obtained.

GMB Freedom of Information request data

 

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

 

Learning Disability pupils

839

970

1,080

1,065

1,030

986

 

Special Needs pupils

2,197

2,525

2,828

2,942

3,050

3,168

 

School Support Staff - Primary

1,057

973

953

677

642

612

i

School Support Staff - Secondary

587

555

522

399

373

345

 

Special Care Assistants - Primary

--

--

--

298

323

364

i

Special Care Assistants - Primary (FTE)

--

--

--

239.33

260.98

289.25

 

Special Care Assistants - Secondary

--

--

--

125

120

147

 

Special Care Assistants - Secondary (FTE)

--

--

--

104.79

102.42

119.34

 

School Support and Special Care Assistants

1,644

1,528

1,475

1,499

1,458

1,468

 

S3 pupils booked on outward bound experience

--

--

--

--

856

856

 

Pupils unauthorised absence - days

482,569

471,288

442,635

441,194

532,735

294,195

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

i - data for 2010-2012 includes special care assistants

 

 

 

 

 

 

From 2010 to 2015 there has been an increase in the number of pupils with learning disabilities from 839 to 986. Similarly, the number of pupils with special needs has increased by 971, from 2,197 in 2010 to 3,168 in 2015.

Despite this increase in the number of pupils with Learning Disabilities and Special Needs, the number of School Support Staff and Special Care Assistants has reduced from 1,644 in 2010 to 1,468 in 2015, a drop of 176, a 10.7% reduction.

Unauthorised absence has seen a huge reduction of over 188,000 days from 2010 to 2015. In 2010 the number of days in pupil’s unauthorised absence was 482,569 and by 2015 this figure had fallen to 294,195. One of the budget proposals is to save £292,000 by scrapping all 12 Attendance Officer posts.

2 North Lanarkshire Council Report on Draft Savings Proposals

 

Total cuts over 2 years

Estimated cuts in FTE

Review admin arrangements in service headquarters

£69,000

3.1

Review management in service headquarters

£100,000

2

Employees pay for their own disclosure check

£92,000

0

Reduce the number of classroom assistants by 50%, OR

£2,488,000

131.5

Reduce the number of classroom assistants by 25%

£1,245,000

65.75

Review admin support in schools and reduce by 15%

£1,110,000

59.79

Introduce team cleaning method in secondary schools and reduce cleaning specification in teaching classrooms

£593,000

28

Review janitorial arrangements, with an annualised 37 hour week and have janitors working across schools, introduce part-time janitor provision for four small schools with low pupil rolls

£1,120,000

21

Reduce annual management fee paid to North Lanarkshire Leisure by 15%

£1,800,000

0

Redesign the community learning and development service, removing universal provision and instead targeting services at those most vulnerable or at risk

£3,086,000

85

Reduce grant funding to other organisations and stop grant funding under the Playschemes, Cultural Activities and Talented & Gifted Individuals schemes

£645,000

0

Reduce annual management fee paid to CultureNL by 15%

£2,144,000

0

Increase music tuition fees from £150 to £200 over two financial years. Those in receipt of footwear and clothing grants, or studying music as a SQA or NQ subject would continue to be exempt from charges

£158,000

4

Reduce service provision in 10 Family Learning Centres to term-time only. The remaining 6 would remain open throughout the year

£217,000

0

Cease provision of dedicated Attendance Officers

£292,000

12

Remove free fruit for primary 1-3 pupils

£287,000

0

Remove central funding for all out of school learning activities including Easter and summer study schools

£370,000

0

Reduce the number of additional support needs assistants for S5 and S6 pupils with less complex needs

£190,000

9

Merge education provision at Fallside School and Portland School for pupils with social, emotional and behavioural needs

£84,000

0.6

Stop providing Outward Bound experience to S3 pupils assessed as most at risk of disengaging with education

£168,000

0

Removal of additional posts to support active literacy programme as programme is now embedded in mainstream activity

£599,000

21

Stop in-house provision for 0-2 year olds in Family Learning Centres. Vulnerable children to be accommodated by partner providers and childminders

£751,000

33

Reduce psychological services staff by 10%

£186,000

4.4

Amalgamate Early Years and Support for Learning administration teams

£100,000

3.5

Reduce number of curriculum support officers

£278,000

4

Full review of ASN sector, including support for specialised staff training, non-teaching staff and budgets for aids and adaptations

£500,000

0

Remove Early Literacy development officers

£108,000

2

Stop the Education Computer Centre service, which supports ICT development and transfer responsibilities to technician and digital services

£131,000

2

TOTAL

£17,666,000

426

 

Proposed cuts by Service area

Estimated FTE

Chief executive's office

4

Corporate services

6

Finance & customer services

33.25

Learning and leisure services

426

Housing & social work services

477

Regeneration & environmental services

143

Themed savings

6

3 Previous GMB Scotland press releases:

1 GMB press release dated 27th January 2016

GMB Scotland Lobby Of Scottish Parliament On Wed 3rd Feb For Fair Funding For Councils Facing Massive Cuts With 8,351 Job Losses Identified So Far

Finance Minister John Swinney is wrong to dismiss or make light of the impact of cuts to budgets for Scottish councils says GMB Scotland

GMB Scotland and Unite are organising a lobby of the Scottish Parliament to coincide with the stage one debate on Scottish Government budget which takes place in the Parliament in Edinburgh at 2.40 pm on Wednesday 3rd February.

The lobby will begin from 1pm. The aim  of the lobby is to secure fair funding for Scottish councils facing massive cuts to services and jobs. See notes to editors for copies of previous GMB Scotland press releases.

The 8,351 job losses so far identified at Scottish councils are as follows:

3,000

Glasgow City Council

2,000

Edinburgh City Council

1,000

North Lanarkshire Council

900

Fife council

700

Falkirk Council

400

South Lanarkshire Council

306

Argyll and Bute

45

Dundee City Council

Alex McLuckie, Regional Officer GMB Scotland, said “Finance Minister John Swinney is wrong to dismiss or make light of the impact of cuts to budgets for Scottish councils.

He could not be more wrong to say “some of the language used to describe this has been unnecessary.” The cuts in Glasgow, Edinburgh and North Lanarkshire, for example, are draconian.

More revenue needs to be raised to blunt the impact of these cuts.

Shop stewards from councils facing massive cut will be at the Parliament from 1 pm on 3rd February to persuade MSPs from all parties that we need a fairer settlement for Scottish local services.”

End

Contact: Alex Mc Luckie 07885 348269 or Benny Rankin, GMB Scotland Regional Officer on 07912 560808 or 0141 332 8641 or GMB press office 07921 289880.

2 GMB Scotland press release dated 25th January

GMB SCOTLAND SAY MORE REVENUES NEEDS TO BE RAISED TO BLUNT IMPACT OF SPENDING CUTS FOR SCOTTISH COUNCILS

John Swinney is wrong to make light of the impact of cuts to budgets for Scotland councils as Glasgow for example faces draconian cuts says GMB Scotland

GMB Scotland, the union for public service workers, commented on the article in the Times by John Swinney rejecting the case for increasing council tax to avoid cuts to Scottish local councils. See notes to editors for copy of article by John Swinney deputy first minister of Scotland in the Times on 25th January 2016.

Alex Mc Luckie, Regional Officer GMB Scotland, said “John Swinney is wrong to dismiss or make light of the impact of cuts to budgets for Scotland councils.

He could not be more wrong to say “some of the language used to describe this has been unnecessary.” The cuts in Glasgow, for example, are draconian.

More revenue needs to be raised to blunt the impact of these cuts.

If council tax had kept pace with inflation Scottish councils would be raising an additional £427m in 2016/17. There would be no need to raid Scottish Government central funds to compensate for these lost taxes thus increasing to amount available for the block grants to councils by £427m.

Freezing council tax is eroding Scotland's tax base. The compensation mechanism perpetuates a "Rob Peter to pay Paul" approach to funding Scotland's councils and should stop.

Local tax to fund local services should be a vital part of local democracy. Voters should be able to make choices about how much tax they should pay and for what level of public service.

If the Council Tax is to end any replacement should fairer, more progressive and empower local voters.

GMB Scotland will work to build a consensus for a tax base to be broadened in a fair way to pay for essential public services"

End

3  Copy of article by John Swinney, Deputy First Minister of Scotland in the Times January 25 2016

 Reform is key as councils handle challenging budgets

John Swinney

The UK government’s austerity programme has reduced Scotland’s public finances and put significant pressure on household income. It is against that backdrop that the Scottish government has had to take its decisions in forming its Budget for 2016-17.

The financial context created by these damaging cuts means that organisations must operate more efficiently to protect public services, and to protect household finances we believe there is no justification for increasing income tax or council tax.

The Scottish government funding proposals for the coming financial year deliver a strong but challenging financial settlement for local government. Scotland’s councils are able to address these challenges from a healthy base. Local government funding has been rising in Scotland in recent years, with core funding protected and new money provided for additional responsibilities. This is in stark contrast to the position in England, where councils have faced a real terms funding cut of 27.4 per cent between 2011 and 2015.

As a percentage of total revenue expenditure, next year’s reduction in local authority budgets in Scotland is 2 per cent. While I do not pretend that this is easy for any council to handle, some of the language used to describe this has been unnecessary.

The key to addressing this challenge is reform, and local government is a key partner in our programme to improve public services. Local government plays an essential role in social care and we are embarking on a radical reform to the way this care is paid for. At the heart of the Budget is our commitment to spend an additional £250 million to support the integration of health and social care.

This is a direct investment in ensuring this process can be undertaken swiftly to meet growing demand. This extra resource can be counted upon by local government as a real and tangible investment in improving a lifeline service.

Successful integration of health and social care will mean that fewer people need to go to hospital to receive care but it will also ensure that where that care is necessary, people will spend less time in hospital and return home more quickly. It will mean a service more focused on the needs of individuals.

As the biggest reform of our health care since the establishment of the NHS in 1948, it deserves the resources we have allocated and it needs the energetic participation of our health and local government services.

I look forward to creating a settlement that will deliver for communities right across Scotland.

John Swinney is deputy first minister of Scotland

4 GMB Scotland press release dated 22nd Oct

GMB SCOTLAND PLEDGE CAMPAIGN TO SAVE 2000 JOBS AND SERVICES THREATENED IN NORTH LANARKSHIRE COUNCIL

This is devastating news to the workforce and the wider community who rely on council services says GMB Scotland

GMB Scotland has pledged campaign to save 2,000 jobs threatened by cuts at North Lanarkshire Council. and save as many jobs and Services as we can for the citizens of North Lanarkshire Council.

Paul Grieve, GMB Scotland Organiser, said “This announcement by North Lanarkshire Council to make 1,905 full time posts redundant is a real body blow to the area. It comes hot on the heels of the announcement by TATA to make 300 workers redundant in the steel Industry.

The Council are using a full time equivalent figure to mask the actual job losses which will be nearer 2,000 jobs lost in the council.

This is devastating news to the workforce and the wider community who rely on council services.

GMB Scotland pledge to campaign to save as many of these jobs and services as we can for the citizens of North Lanarkshire.

We will be using any consultation period and the time between now and February when the budget is set to reduce the impact on jobs and services. 

We will work with all interested parties to get this proposal overturned.”

End

 

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