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Bristol to axe 1,000 jobs as it faces ‘huge financial burden’

Around 1,000 full-time staff at Bristol City Council may lose their jobs as the council faces a £29m budget deficit.

The council is carrying out a consultation on the changes and has launched a scheme to let staff apply for voluntary redundancy. The affected staff will leave their jobs by the end of September.

Labour’s Marvin Rees, who was elected mayor of Bristol in May, said: “I have inherited a huge financial challenge which is proving bigger than we knew even a month or two ago.  We continue to make savings in many ways, but we cannot close the gap without reducing the number of jobs at the council.

“This scheme is about giving people the option to leave voluntarily, which is the right thing to do. We will support staff as best we can throughout this difficult time.”

Rees added that Bristol will look for more opportunities to collaborate with partners in order to reduce the impact of the job losses.

However, he said that they will “inevitably place more restrictions” on council services.

Bristol has also filed a Section 188 Notice with the trade unions to provide official notice of the potential job losses.

Steve Crawshaw, branch secretary for Unison Bristol, said: “Slicing more and more off budgets while expecting the same service to be delivered is not realistic any more. We are seeing the beginnings of a crisis in social care and you only have to look around the city streets to see the homelessness that results.

“Real political leadership is needed from the mayor. Firstly to decide what kind of public services he wants given the lack of money, and second to unite with the leaders of other core cities and say to Theresa May: give us the funding we need – or we risk failing our residents.”

Local authorities as a whole are increasingly struggling to meet their financial obligations, with spending expected to be cut by 1% in this financial year.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services warned recently that councils are facing a crisis in social care funding despite measures intended to reduce it such as a new council tax precept.

Bristol Council will hold a public consultation on plans for its April 2017-20 budget over the autumn and submit a new medium term financial plan to the council in February 2017.

Cllr Craig Cheney, the cabinet member for finance, said: “This process is about fixing our financial foundations as we continue to plan for the longer term to put our resources where they are most needed. Budget proposals for next year and our new financial strategy will be consulted upon later in the year. We’re currently looking at every option alongside the priorities shared by people who have used our online budget simulator tool.

“This marks the first really tough choice which has to be made given the financial position we inherited following years of burdens being placed on local government by the austerity measures of central government. Sadly there will be more tough choices ahead and we will continue to involve the city in meaningful discussion about how we face these challenges.”

Bristol City Council recently voted in favour of joining the new West of England devolution deal.

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