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17.10.16

Thousands of jobs could go as more councils reveal severe budget cuts

Councils in Wolverhampton, Newcastle and Kent are set to significantly reduce staff numbers and cut services as they struggle to cope with unprecedented financial pressures.

Wolverhampton City Council has already issued an HR1 form to the government announcing its intention to cut up to 1,000 jobs through voluntary and compulsory redundancies by March 2017.

The council had initially anticipated having to achieve savings of £22m in 2017-18, but this has now grown to £23m.  Because of the accelerated pressure to achieve budget cuts, the job losses are likely to be subject to a 30 or 45 day consultation, instead of the best practice 90-day consultation.

Meanwhile, Newcastle City Council approved plans last week for £70m cuts over the next three years.

Papers from a council cabinet meeting last week noted: “It is clear that Newcastle will again be forced to make difficult choices. While the certainty offered by a three-year budget is welcome and will offer opportunities to make savings more intelligently, it will not make up for the significant reduction in the council’s overall spending power.”

Measures proposed to achieve the savings include cutting £1.5m and 12 full-time staff from children’s assessment and intervention services, and £2.3m and two full-time staff from early intervention and prevention in adult social care.

Kent County Council, the largest local authority in the south east, also opened a consultation on proposals to balance its budget.

Even if it introduces a 3.99% council tax increase and a social care precept as planned, the council will still need to find savings of £80.4m in 2017-18 and £153m by 2019-20. It was also noted that “hundreds of jobs will have to go”.

Cllr Paul Carter, leader of the council, said: “The government has placed an enormous challenge on us by imposing on local government some of the biggest cuts compared to other parts of the public sector.

“With forward planning and facing the challenge early on we are now in a better position than most. We totally understand that some transformational plans take many years to implement. We are forward-thinking, have made intelligent commissioning decisions and have the situation in hand.

“Despite these huge challenges, we are determined to continue to make Kent a great place to live and work, seeing the population grow and attracting new businesses.”

The news comes after Manchester, Sheffield and Croydon also announced plans to cut services and jobs.

Lancashire County Council also faces such a severe budget deficit that it is being forced to close services at more than 100 sites, and an independent consultant has warned it is at risk of government intervention.

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