THE decisions demanded by Glasgow’s financial position weigh heavily on all of us elected to represent our citizens.

Amid unprecedented pressures, the very survival of some services is at stake.

This year’s Budget saw the council’s three main political parties take seriously the responsibility of keeping Glasgow on a secure footing.

We may disagree over some approaches and priorities, but for the long-term good of Glasgow, all put forward some proposals we’d rather not have had to.

The same pressures faced by businesses and households also continue to affect council finances.

The UK’s rampant inflation, interest rates and soaring energy costs have pushed up the costs of running a city of Glasgow’s size and complexity to an all-time high.

Inflation has also had massive implications for staff costs. Our workforce deserves pay rises in line with inflation. But neither Scottish nor local government funding is inflation-proofed and it’s left to us to square that circle to help staff through this crisis, without any assistance from the UK Government to offset the impact of their policies.

And the consequences of our Equal Pay Bill are at the heart of the challenges we face.

We warned from the outset that there would be a substantial price tag to resolving this scandal and doing the right thing to end pay discrimination and compensate the women workers.

The latest council Budget is unusual in covering the next three years instead of just one. The plan over that time is to reform services and explore new sources of income which could reduce the impact of the savings put forward.

But right now, the gap between what it costs to run services for those three years and the resources we have is £108 million.

Our critical challenge is to meet the needs of Glasgow within that context. Top of those priorities is protecting Glaswegians from the continuing impact of the cost-of-living crisis with the resources available to us.

Even before the pandemic, struggling households were increasingly relying on the council for assistance but that need has increased further still.

But it’s also vital that we keep Glasgow on a secure financial footing.

We’ve seen more examples of major councils south of the border going bankrupt due to poor decisions.

That would be utterly catastrophic for Glasgow, our households and our economy.

The SNP city administration has and will always fight for more resources for Glasgow.

And we’ve never shirked from standing up for our right to make decisions on behalf of the communities we’re elected to serve.

This year, standing up for our communities has also meant freezing council tax.

There have been claims made that by raising council tax beyond 5% funded by the freeze would have removed the need to make savings.

That’s just not true. The scale of the gap we face would mean the average household paying an additional £65-per-month in three years if it were to be bridged by council tax alone.

A hike of that magnitude, especially in the current climate, would be unacceptable and unrealistic.

But given the scale of the deficit we face, and in the interest of fairness to all citizens and the spread of services they rely on, we have had to take some savings from education, which accounts for more than half of council service expenditure, after six years of it being protected under the SNP.

The remarkable progress in Glasgow’s schools and the achievements of our children and young people in recent years has been one of Scotland’s great success stories.

I’m very proud that Glasgow has gone from one of the worst to one of the best performing Scottish local authorities for positive destinations for our school leavers.

We are determined to continue that focus on educational outcomes. While the number of teachers will reduce, Glasgow’s schools still have – and will continue to have – a generous pupil-to-teacher ratio compared with the Scottish average.

And while teachers are absolutely vital to supporting our young people’s success, so too are many other things: access to libraries, culture and sport; support for families living with the long-term impacts of poverty and inequality; and access to healthy food, to name just a few.

The educational achievements of Glasgow’s young people are inextricably bound up with their wider wellbeing and that’s why our Budget aims to keep providing them and Glasgow’s communities with the full range of council services that help make good lives for all Glaswegians.