WEST Dunbartonshire Council will set a “no cuts budget” for the second year in a row for financial period 2020/21.

The decision has been welcomed by councillors who hope the news will help local communities which have suffered from austerity.

It comes as council bosses found almost £20million to spare after finance chiefs reviewed existing loans dating back to 1996, looked at re-mortgaging options and any over-payments made.

The local authority will also ask the Scottish Government for a fairer funding settlement from their budget. A report was presented to members at the most recent full council meeting.

SNP councillor Ian Dickson said: “Everything has been chopped and changed because of the Westminster election in December.

“This council is sending a delegation to Holyrood to lobby for a fairer funding settlement. We expect to set our budget on March 4 now.”

Another £9m was found from reviewing loans connected to the housing revenue account, creating a second reserve that will figure into calculations for setting rents in March.

The council is proposing to spread the money out over 10 years to reduce payments on loan principles and close funding gaps.

Labour councillor Martin Rooney said: “I am actually delighted to see this report in front of us and a recommendation which is going to set a ‘no cuts budget’.

“The report also shows we will have about £9m of capital receipts with the sale of Garshake and former Our Lady and St Patrick’s High.

“The report gives us a lot of hope for budgets this year and the coming years.”

Read more: Council services to be spared cuts to their budgets for the next year

Councillor Daniel Lennie wanted confirmation when West Dunbartonshire’s budget would be announced.

Councillor Jonathan McColl, council leader, said: “West Dunbartonshire Council will set our budget on March 4 and then the Scottish Government will set its budget on March 6.

“Should the figures the government set for local government be different than what we based our budget on then we would need to come back as a council and amend ours.

“I am delighted that for the second year in a row we will be able to set a no cuts budget and it will be a great relief to everyone in our communities who have been getting hit hard by budget cuts for almost as long as I have been a councillor.”

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr McColl added: “I have the privilege of leading a fantastic team of SNP councillors working with council officers to ensure we deliver the best possible outcomes for our constituents.

“I appreciate the positive comments from the opposition and hope that we can continue to move forward in consensus when we come to set the budget.”

Elsewhere, the report also revealed the council will need to set aside around £2m for potential claims of historic child abuse.