The DEMOCRAT

Budget special 2

SNP and Tory Budget will hit schools and families, claims Labour MSP

School milk

Baillie Jackie MSP

School milk cut leaves a sour taste in pupils’ mouths.

March 7, 2018 – MSP Jackie Baillie (right) has warned that the attainment gap in local schools will grow wider following SNP-run West Dunbartonshire Council’s decision to slash over three quarters of a million pounds in the next three years from education budgets.

On Monday SNP and Tory councillors voted to reduce Educational Maintenance Allowance for children from low-income families and slash the Curriculum for Excellence budget.

Led by Cllr Jonathan McColl, the SNP Group also voted to cut over £60,000 per year from Parent Councils at schools in Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven. Parents have used these funds in recent years to contribute towards school trips, purchase Chromebooks and even buy a school minibus to attend sporting events.

Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School and Vale of Leven Academy will lose almost £10,000 each while Dumbarton Academy, which of the three secondaries has the smallest school roll, will lose over £5,500.

The SNP cuts won the seal of approval from the Tories – perhaps unsurprising given that much of their plans, including the cuts to free school milk at lunch time, were inspired by Margaret Thatcher.

Jackie Baillie said:  “The SNP Government said education would be its number one priority but Cllr Jonathan McColl’s administration’s cuts will make it even harder to close the attainment gap in our schools.

“Shame on the SNP for voting with the Tories to impose austerity on children and young people in Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven.

“The previous Labour administration increased Educational Maintenance Allowance because it helps ensure that children from low-income families can stay on at school and gain the qualifications needed to improve their chances in life.

“Labour’s alternative budget would have stopped the cuts and invested in our schools to help every young person reach their full potential. Our bold and radical plans to extend free school meals to weekends and school holidays and increase the back-to-school clothing grant to £130 would have been a significant contribution to tackling child poverty rates in West Dunbartonshire.”

School name 2017 role Parent Council Funding per year
Aitkenbar 190 £1,900
Bonhill 299 £2,990
Braehead 232 £2,320
Christie Park 267 £2,670
Dalreoch 66 £660
Gartocharn 78 £780
Haldane 140 £1,400
Jamestown 165 £1,650
Knoxland 380 £3,800
Lennox Primary School 232 £2,320
Levenvale 161 £1,610
Renton 185 £1,850
St Kessog’s 156 £1,560
St Martin’s 65 £650
St Mary’s, Alexandria 189 £1,890
St Michael’s 298 £2,980
St Patrick’s 360 £3,600
St Peter’s 144 £1,440
St Ronan’s 94 £940
Dumbarton Academy 556 £5,560
Our Lady & St Patrick’s High 949 £9,490
Vale of Leven Academy 960 £9,600
Total £61,660

Education cuts agreed on 5 March 2018

2018/19 2019/20 2020/21
End free school milk at lunchtime (management adjustment) 55,000 55,000 55,000
Cut Educational Maintenance Allowance £82,000 £82,000 £82,000
Cut Parent Council Funding £75,000 £75,000 £75,000
Reduce the Curriculum for Excellence budget £42,000 £42,000 £42,000

Total: £762,000 over three years

Additionally, MSP Baillie has hit out at the decision “to shed jobs and undermine workers’ rights” on the same day that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met the Scottish Trades Union Congress to develop a charter on Fair Work.

The First Minister expressed her support for the “recognition that workers need an effective voice through a union” in a joint statement with the STUC.

Meanwhile, her SNP councillors passed a Budget with the support of the Tories which cut around 50 full-time council jobs and introduced anti-trade union measures. Trade union facility time will be reduced by the equivalent of 1.4 full-time posts, leaving trade union conveners with less time to represent their members’ interests.

The Joint Trade Unions have now formally notified West Dunbartonshire Council of their decision to withdraw from the Council / Trade union partnership, a move which Labour said would damage industrial relations.

The 50 full-time job losses will come mainly from Greenspace but dozens of low-paid, part-time council cleaners will also be affected by the cuts to cleaning agreed between senior SNP councillors and officers behind closed doors.

The cuts to voluntary organisations, many of them key partners in the delivery of services, will also lead to further job losses in the third sector in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Clydebank.

Labour councillors presented an alternative budget which rejected the anti-trade union measures and protected jobs.

Jackie Baillie said:  “The SNP and the Tories have joined forces to pass a budget which undermines the rights of trade unions to represent workers and sheds dozens of jobs in West Dunbartonshire.

“It is ironic that on the very same day that Nicola Sturgeon is meeting the STUC to develop a Fair Work charter, Cllr Jonathan McColl and the local SNP councillors are voting to make it harder for trade unions to represent their members’ interests.

“Labour’s alternative budget would have stopped the cuts, protected jobs and invested £2.5 million in anti-poverty projects to build a West Dunbartonshire that works for the many, not the few.”

 

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