AFTER months of regular debate, much via the pages of the Greenock Telegraph, Inverclyde Council has finally set a budget for the coming year. 

As many as 50 jobs will be reduced by delivering services differently, however this will be as a result of a series of reports to the council’s committee structure.

The budget consultation process got many people involved and it was great to see such a healthy turn out of members of the public at the budget-setting meeting, especially members of Inverclyde Youth Connections. 

I have noticed some criticism because the SNP group set an alternative budget. Now,  criticising partisan politics is quite easy and it normally gets support, I know because I’ve tried it before in the past. 

However, sometimes 100 per cent consensus is not possible and it’s then that transparent debate makes us come to better decisions. 

The reality is that thanks to the cross party work on the council’s budget, around 90 per cent of both budgets debated last week were similar.

It is, and it will remain, important that where we can agree consensus we contribute to do so, but it will also remain equally important that when we do have a difference of opinion that we don’t exploit that difference for party political reasons but instead to make the decision making process of the council better. 

It won’t be long until we need to start thinking about next year’s budget and the SNP group will be part of that process of alongside our colleagues of other political parties and those of none. 

There is more that we agree on than we disagree on and one area is the desire to support our looked after children in Inverclyde. 

As councillors, we are the ‘corporate parent’ to over 200 ‘looked after children’ in Inverclyde. 

You will know from your own families that when your children turn 21 you don’t suddenly stop loving and supporting them. 

We should be no different in our approach to the children that the council is responsible for. 

Nicola Sturgeon announced last year that looked after children would be exempt from council tax. I am pleased that in Inverclyde this will become policy as of this coming financial year. 

From April anyone who is at least 18 years old — but under 26 — and previously in the care of Inverclyde Council will be exempt from council tax.

In 2015 Inverclyde Council became the first council in Scotland to sign up to the Scottish Care Leavers’ Covenant promising increased support for young people who have been brought up in care.

The covenant is a commitment to improve the lives and opportunities of young people leaving care as they enter adulthood.

Support now offered by the council includes developing skills to manage finances and budget on a limited income, help finding suitable housing, financial support for essential furnishings and household goods (average spend around £3000) and help with benefit applications.

Anyone who believes they are entitled to a care leaver’s council tax exemption should contact the throughcare and aftercare team on 01475 715020.