‘Hugely regrettable’ 100 jobs cuts proposed for struggling Somerset County Council

Somerset County Council is proposing to cut more than 100 jobs in a bid to make savings and balance the authority’s books.

A statement yesterday by council leader David Fothergill noted that Somerset had to “live within our means” amid a funding crisis striking local authorities across the country, and revealed that the council has commenced a formal consultation with trade unions on the potential redundancies.

Somerset’s financial difficulties are echoed by struggling councils across the UK: several are reaching breaking point, with Oxfordshire County Council also announcing significant job cuts yesterday in an effort to make savings over the next two to three years.

Cllr Fothergill said Somerset—which last month said it would not be issuing a section 114 notice despite pressures—has found around £130m of savings and efficiencies over the last eight years, but he explained that 40% of funding cannot be taken out of an organisation without there being an impact.

The statement comes after an email, seen by the BBC last week, indicated that the council is preparing to make cuts to 110 services totalling £14m, including a closure to Taunton’s park & ride sites.

The Somerset leader said: “We’ve been open and honest about the huge financial challenge that this authority, and councils up and down the country, are having to deal with.

“The trend of falling central government funding and increasing costs and demand continues and there is no sign of any bailout from Westminster. We have to live within our means and all services have been asked to find further savings.

“No decisions have been made and all will be subject to consultation where necessary, but if proposals are taken forward they will inevitably have an impact on what we can and can’t do. We have fantastic staff doing great work that improves the lives of residents every day, and it is hugely regrettable that some of them are likely to be affected by this.”

Cllr Fothergill added that Somerset will look to minimise the impact of the cuts by looking to achieve savings through voluntary redundancy, redeployment within the authority, and removing vacant posts where possible.

“The coming weeks will be very difficult for the council and its staff, but we have to achieve financial stability and the end result will be a council that can afford itself and continue to provide valuable, long-term sustainable services for our residents,” he concluded.

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Image credit: Geograph


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