Argyll council cuts threaten literacy and learning

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A proposed package of budget cuts aiming to save Argyll and Bute Council more than £4 million may slash up to 60 jobs.

In a savings report, debated at yesterday’s Policy and Resources committee meeting, one part of the education department – youth and adult learning – stood to lose 17.1 full time equivalent posts, three from Kintyre, out of 26 graduate roles across the region.

If the cuts go ahead in next February’s budget the jobs proposed to be lost in youth and adult learning will save £330,000.

Councillor Rory Colville said: ‘Until we see what the Scottish Government allocates to Argyll and Bute Council this year it’s really too early to comment in detail on particular proposals.

‘It is perhaps worth noting that since 2013/14, while the Scottish government budget has seen a 1.65 per cent reduction Scottish councils funding has been reduced by almost seven per cent.’

In Kintyre at least 34 learners currently access the service but the impact of the cut could be felt across many other council and voluntary services.

One learner who preferred not to be identified said: ‘Youth and adult learning runs adult literacy services and has at least eight adults who cannot read currently being taught.’

The service also runs a job club where trainees learn interview skills, curriculum vitae writing and work from the computer suite at Campbeltown Community Education centre which has eight public access computers.

People not only use that service to apply for jobs but also make lasting friendships and many return to visit even after finding work.

The learner added: ‘Many parts of life, including applying for Universal Credit are moving online and it is hard to use the online services if you struggle with reading and writing.

‘The services’ workers go out in the community and engage with different groups including Elderberries and South Kintyre Development Trust.’

Argyll First Councillor, Donald Kelly, added: ‘The council continues to target services which support the most vulnerable in our communities which in my book is totally unacceptable.

‘If this cut goes ahead it will have a devastating and wide ranging impact. I will be doing my utmost to oppose these proposals.’

The next largest proposed cut is to remove school crossing patrols which would involve the loss of 12.5 jobs. It was proposed in 2016 but rejected.