A PART-time teaching post will have to be scrapped after it was revealed that Swindon Council will have to fork out tens of thousands of pounds to vet new social services and education staff.

Council leader Mike Bawden (Con, Old Town and Lawns) has written to Home Secretary David Blunkett after it was announced that disclosure fees for information from the Criminal Records Bureau have more than doubled from £12 to £29 - a rise that is likely to have a significant impact on this year's budget.

The authority uses information gleaned from the Criminal Records Bureau to vet new staff who will be working for the council, particularly in the education and social services departments.

Coun Bawden asked Mr Blunkett at least to defer the increase until next year to allow the council's finance chiefs to build the increase into the budget for 2004-5 and continue negotiations with central Government about the amount it should be prepared to pay to fund the rise. The increase came in on July 1.

He said: "I recognise the critical importance of the criminal records checks for relevant staff and we will not shirk that responsibility. The 142 per cent increase will have a real impact on our budget for this year, particularly in education, as most clearances for new appointments for the new school year will be requested after July 1.

"Additional costs will run into tens of thousands of pounds for this financial year.

"By introducing these increases with no warning, it makes it impossible for the council to achieve sound financial planning.

"This is taking much needed money away from our social services and education departments."

In a letter of reply, Home Office minister Baroness Scotland, said: "There will continue to be a substantial subsidy of some £19m from central Government, but it was essential that we made significant inroads in the CRB's £41m operating deficit in 2002-3.

"I recognise the fee increase will be an unwelcome one for the CRB's customers. I believe, however, that the new fee levels still represent good value for money given the significantly increased level of protection for children and vulnerable adults.

"This improved level of protection comes at a cost but it is one worth paying."

In addition new plans have been revealed to make local authorities more self-funding through council tax, rather than reliant on the settlement from Government each year, will see council rates increased.

According to Coun Bawden, when Labour came to power in 1997 some 73 per cent of the cost of running the authority was met by Govern-ment money. Today that figure stands at around 67 per cent.

Earlier this year the Advertiser revealed that council taxpayers can brace themselves for at least an 8.3 per cent rise in their rates next April, bringing the total amount of rises in the past three years to nearly 40 per cent.

"This is going to force up council tax and is yet another example of local taxpayers having to carry the burden," he said.

"It wouldn't be so bad if taxes were coming down, but I'm certainly not convinced they are."