Fears of a new £750k hole in Comhairle finances have emerged following the announcement of changes to teachers’ pensions.
The amount that councils, including the Comhairle, have to contribute to teacher pensions is set to increase by 40% in April 2019, and additional funding for councils to plug the gap in budgets is yet to be announced.
At present, council’s make a contribution to teacher pensions in excess of 16%, but that figure will rise to 23% next year.
A spokesperson for the Comhairle said: “Unless the Scottish Government provides additional funding this will have to be found from existing resources.
“The Leader has already raised this with the Cabinet Secretary and should there be Barnett consequentials from the additional money coming into the Treasury, we would anticipate provision in the 2019/20 Local Government settlement for this increased cost.”
The Scottish Government was approached for comment but none was received at the time of going to press.
Comhairle budgets could meanwhile be further under pressure after the main Teachers Unions in Scotland rejected the latest offer of a pay settlement of 3%, and the leaders of the EIS warned that industrial action in the classroom was now nearer if an improved offer, closer to their demands for a 10% increase, were not met.
EIS General Secretary, Larry Flanagan commented: “It is shameful that Scottish Ministers h.,ave walked away from the negotiating table in this manner.
“The EIS, and other unions, had offered constructive proposals for Government and COSLA to consider but in rejecting them out of hand, Ministers have effectively dismissed the concerns of Scottish teachers.
“The prospect of industrial unrest in Scotland’s schools has moved a significant step closer as a result of the Government’s abandonment of talks.”
COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor, said: “At a time when the resources available to councils continue to reduce, we have dug deep to put an offer of 3% on the table for the entire local government workforce at a cost of £350m.
“This offer matches or betters other offers in the public sector in Scotland, so to say I’m disappointed that it has been rejected is an understatement.
“The Teachers Unions claim for 10% in a single year cannot be achieved and is entirely unaffordable and they have been told this since the offer was submitted at the start of the year.
“Balloting for a mandate for industrial action will do no one any good as there is nothing further we can add to the current offer and will only disrupt the education of our children and young people.”
The Comhairle has earmarked a 3% increase in teaching staff costs in its budget for the coming year.