ONE of the UK’s largest trade unions has slammed Clackmannanshire Council’s budget, calling many of the cuts “discriminatory”.

The council unanimously approved the 2024/25 budget on Thursday, February 29, which will see a raft of money put forward to protect and fund vital services.

Similarly, to meet the budget gap, a number of cuts have had to be made, which Unison have now criticised for the impact it will have on jobs.

The union say they are extremely concerned about the effect on jobs, the ability on providing for existing services and fears that services may cease completely.

Kevin McIntyre, branch secretary for Unison Clackmannanshire, expressed concern that jobs are being sacrificed unnecessarily without consideration for who they impact.

He said: “Many of the cuts were ill thought out, are unlikely to achieve the desired savings and some are potentially discriminatory or are morally indefensible.

“There are examples like reducing footpath gritting and refusing to pay back for those who did the work but have left the organisation after being forced out of their jobs through redundancy or have been let go due to ill health.

“At the same time, there seems to be a growing trend of outsourcing work which costs more and delivers less for the people of Clackmannanshire.”

One aspect of the budget that caught headlines was the council tax freeze, put forward by the Scottish Government and accepted by Clacks Council.

This ensures council tax rates remain at the 2023/24 levels and will be reviewed next year, which Unison have criticised.

They also strongly feel that local workers and contractors within Clackmannanshire are being frozen out in favour of bigger private sector companies.

David Wilson, services and conditions officer for Unison Clackmannanshire, added: “The decision to accept a council tax freeze over maintaining jobs and services was the wrong thing to do for the people of Clackmannanshire.

“In addition to the ‘death by a thousand cuts’ service reductions, we also need to consider another trend in public services – the outsourcing of council work to the private sector and the use of consultants at the cost of millions to the public purse.”

The last part of the budget which Unison have called out is a proposal which stops staff who have left before a pay award from claiming back the difference.

The union feel that this means staff will leave having been underpaid for the work they have carried out, which Unison call “ethically and morally questionable”.

David continued: “Unison Clackmannanshire is in disbelief that some of these political parties’ state that they are socially progressive.

“Staff in Clackmannanshire Council have witnessed the reintroduction of compulsory redundancies and now some of those who will be made redundant may not be able to claim back pay for hours they have worked.”