Salford council to axe over 130 jobs as it aims to find £16m savings

Salford City Council is due to make further budget and jobs cuts as it struggles to cope with the impact of national funding reductions.

The council announced that it is opening a consultation on the best way to deliver £15.8m efficiency savings in 2017-18.

In addition, 133 council jobs are due to go, although 109 of those can be achieved by transferring staff to existing vacancies or releasing staff through voluntary redundancy and early retirement. The council said it hoped to avoid compulsory redundancies for the remaining posts.

Labour’s Paul Dennett, who was elected as the city’s mayor in May, said: “Residents are being hit hard by the impact of government cuts with the council severely restricted in how much we can respond to increasing demands on our services.

“We are focusing on protecting the areas that matter the most to local people, but ultimately there is no hiding from some of the impact that Tory cuts will make.”

The local authority has been forced to make £186m savings since 2010, and its government funding has been cut by almost 50% overall.

Salford is the latest in a series of councils warning that local services are being pushed to near-breaking point by national spending cuts. Most recently, Birmingham City Council said it would have to make £340m cuts by 2019-20 as it faced its “greatest financial challenge ever”.

One of the key ways Salford is seeking to make savings is through merging services and greater integration. It has already formed an integrated care organisation with NHS Salford CCG, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, freeing £1.8m in efficiency savings from its social care budget.

Social care as a whole is facing acute financial pressures, despite communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid promising an additional £900m through a 3% council tax precept last week.

Other integrated service reforms include a proposal to merge drug and alcohol services with Bolton Council and Trafford Council, which will save £200,000 through efficiencies of scale.

In the new budget there are also plans to redesign the Community Safety partnership to base it around “multi-agency intervention”, saving £112,000; commissioning an integrated 0-19 children’s health service, saving £450,000; and merging health and employability services, saving £360,000.

Salford City Council also said it could cut the schools budget after a number of schools in the area became academies; cut the budget for health checks because take-up had not been at 100%; and end a contract at Highfield Children’s Home because of a reduction in the number of looked-after children needing specialist residential care.

The consultation will make a final decision on its 2017-18 budget in late February. In the meantime, it is running an online questionnaire on the proposals and a series of public meetings.

(Image c. Craig Sunter)

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