Council leader speaks out on single deals and ‘claw backs’

East Renfrewshire council leader Jim Fletcher has accused the Scottish government of “holding a gun to our head” over funds for this fiscal year.

The councillor criticised the government for using a carrot and stick approach to education funding and said there would be no individual negotiations between East Ren and Holyrood.

On the one hand, the government is offering to raise the education budget for councils by £10m to £51m but the extra funds will be “clawed back” from councils that fall short of teacher number targets – even by only one post being unfilled.

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Councillor Fletcher told The Extra: “The issue of Scottish teacher numbers is an imposition on local government.

“Councils like ourselves who have invested in education have a very high baseline and have to aim higher for and maintain our very good teacher ratios.

“We don’t know how much East Ren council will be allocated. It could end up only being enough to fund four or five teaching post but we are very focused on education and we think that we deliver on it for local people.”

The councillor expressed his anger at government seeming to go behind the councils representative body COSLA’s back and approaching individual councils directly on the issue of teacher numbers.

He said: “We are unhappy about the government moving away from national collective bargaining. It is important that we retain that.”