THE fact that Aberdeen City Council has to make significant cuts to its budget has been known for some time.

Back in August, the local authority which serves Scotland’s third biggest city announced its intention to slash £125m over the next five years as part of a major restructure. At the time, council leader Angela Scott said she could not say how many jobs would be lost as part of the belt-tightening exercise, which comes as the city continues to take a financial hit from the oil and gas slump.

Yesterday, however, the Council started talking numbers. In a bid to save more than £10m in the coming financial year, up to 230 full time jobs will be lost, a figure the authority says it hopes to achieve through voluntary redundancies and not filling vacant positions. This comes on top of the 150 applications for voluntary redundancy and retirement it accepted in June 2017.

Clearly, avoiding compulsory redundancies is always preferable to forcing people out of work. But the latest Aberdeen announcement brings up inevitable questions about the extent of the cuts on the ground that will unavoidably accompany such job losses.

Usually it’s the poorest and most vulnerable that are worst hit by any local authority cuts, the very young and old, the disabled. But over the last few years the impact has been felt by all of us, with road maintenance being a prime example.

In the current financial climate, however, it’s hard to see what else council leaders can do other than seek to fund and preserve the most statutory services, while sacrificing the more preventative and services that often need a longer term approach.

Aberdeen is certainly not alone in having to cut jobs to balance the books. Indeed, according to trade unions more than 28,000 full-time jobs have been shed by cash-strapped councils in Scotland in the last seven years.

And it’s hard to see much light at the end of the tunnel for local authorities, despite the council tax freeze being ended.

Glasgow City Council faces a particular conundrum in the coming years as it works out how to fund an equal pay settlement for 11,000 women while protecting frontline jobs and services.

Only last week, meanwhile, North Lanarkshire’s leader warned of “difficult decisions” on cuts to services despite receiving an extra £10m from the Scottish Government following the budget deal struck by the SNP and Greens.

Indeed, although the extra £160m announced at the end of last month as part of the agreement was welcomed by town halls across the country, it still leaves them facing an ongoing funding black hole as well the accompanying pounding headache, not least because they have been instructed to give around three quarters of their workforce a three per cent pay rise.

Both the Westminster and Holyrood Governments have made it clear that they are prepared to resist the begging bowls put out by local authorities, saying it’s up to councils to balance their books. But it’s getting harder to see how this approach can continue, especially now that the cuts are actively jeopardising the very policies ministers staked their electoral success on.

It’s surely time for local and central Government to come up with more viable funding solutions to ensure the local services we rely on can continue to be delivered. Gradual council tax rises over the coming years will likely form part of the solution. But they are no panacea, not least since so many taxpayers are themselves still feeling the pinch.

Perhaps the only other alternative is to accept as a society that we can no longer afford the range of public services we have enjoyed for so long. Difficult decisions indeed.