Councillors have agreed to save more than £3.4 million in this year’s budget in a bid to bridge West Dunbartonshire’s funding gap.

The spending plans of the area’s SNP-led administration were backed at the authority’s annual budget meeting on Monday – but only on the casting vote of the council’s Provost.

Despite receiving £700,000 in extra Scottish Government funding, the local authority still had to make savings of £2.6m – which includes removing £300,000 from the free school meal reserves.

The council will make savings of £1.03m on free school meal revenue as the council intends to align the implementation of free school meals expansion with the Scottish Government timetable and funding.

Savings of £260,000 have also been made from the health and social care partnership – whose board, the authority’s annual budget meeting heard, has indicated that it can manage its own budget gap.

A further £1.4m in council revenue savings has also been identified.

At the budget meeting SNP councillor Ian Dickson said: “The past 12 months have brought unprecedented financial challenges to the way the local authorities have operated across the country.

“Despite the many challenges we have faced, we have worked hard to deliver quality services for our residents. As a council we are committed to doing everything we can to support our most vulnerable citizens throughout this crisis and beyond.

“A full year on from the first lockdown we are beginning to see brighter days with a sense of normality on the horizon. We cannot stop here, though – our focus is on ensuring our services and communities can make a full recovery from the impact of coronavirus.”

The spending plans of the ruling SNP administration include a commitment to creating two new community empowerment posts and to investing £40,000 in local Women’s Aid services.

Councillor Dickson continued: “We will ensure as a council we will continue to support our residents to get involved and to make positive changes throughout the area.

“There is no magic wand or genie to say this is how it should be done, but we will continue to look at best practices across the world to deliver community empowerment.

“Women’s Aid services have historically seen council funding cut or removed altogether.

“We have guaranteed funding for Women’s Aid and will continue to do so.”

An amendment from the Labour group rejected service cuts from the administration.

Speaking to his party’s alternative budget proposals, Labour group leader Councillor Martin Rooney said: “We have rejected service cuts from the administration and utilised reserves to protect council services, jobs and to protect valued services to our communities.”

Labour’s proposals included using a £700,000 one-off grant from the Scottish Government towards local government pay negotiations.

Following the discussion 11 members voted for the motion and 11 for the amendment, but the casting vote of SNP Provost William Hendrie saw the party’s spending plans carry the day.