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Hundreds of council jobs face the axe as budget plans published

Council services in Manchester, Sheffield and Croydon are all facing further cuts as the local authorities struggle to balance their budgets, with hundreds of jobs at risk.

For the first time, councils are able to set their budgets until 2020, allowing them to plan their savings measures further in advance.

Manchester City Council opened a consultation on how to address a budget gap of between £40m and £75m, with 155 jobs scheduled to go.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Producing a balanced budget, which invests in the future of the city and its people while protecting the most vulnerable and the universal services that people value most gets harder every year.

“That’s why business as usual is not an option and we have to look at new ways of doing things, as exemplified by our new approach to setting the budget.”

Manchester City Council’s budget has reduced from £682m a year in 2010-11 to £582m a year, and its workforce has been cut by 40%.

The council’s children’s services, education and skills department faces cuts of £6.699m and 29 job losses. Services it is also considering reducing include the health visitors contract, Early Years services and Children’s Centres.

Funding at the Growth and Neighbourhoods department is scheduled to be cut by £9.441m, with 32 jobs lost.

The council is considering a number of efficiency measures, including encouraging more recycling, sharing back-office functions for community sport and leisure, and reducing the scale of Christmas lights by 50%.

It also said it will be able to save £27.064m from its adult social care budget thanks to plans to introduce a local care organisation, which will support care close to home for adults instead of hospital or residential care, and integrate commissioning with local CCGs.

Manchester is also planning to save £14.188m from corporate services and cutting 90 jobs, with proposed measures including boosting council tax collection rates, ending the Local Welfare Provision scheme for those in crisis, and saving in areas such as human resources and printing.

Cllr John Flanagan, executive member for finance, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time so far to give us their views and ideas for the Council’s budget. I know there can be a lot of cynicism about these exercises, but what people have told us so far about what matters most to them has been crucial in shaping and indeed challenging the thinking behind the budget and the specific options being considered.”

In Croydon, meanwhile, the council published plans to achieve £45m savings by 2020, with measure including more personalised adult social care, introducing a new model of provision for children’s services, and reviewing the council’s use of its buildings.

Cllr Tony Newman, leader of the council, said: “The council has a firm hold on Croydon’s finances and this has enabled it to successfully invest in the borough, whilst making savings and protecting key front lines services, which is no mean feat.

“This is good news for Croydon and its residents who will benefit from greater security and more financial certainty. The new efficiency plan will empower the council and allow it to look ahead to the continued delivery of the key, frontline, value for money services that residents need and most importantly, deserve.”

Sheffield City Council also warned that it is due to cut its budget by £40m this year, after seven consecutive years of cuts totalling £352m. It said the council’s cumulative budget gap will reach £116m by 2021-22.

Cllr Ben Curran, Sheffield city council’s cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “Make no mistake, the cumulative impact of the last seven years of budget cuts has been huge. We know that many people in the city have felt the impact of these cuts on their lives in a number of ways. But when we look back at these sums, it is only due to prudent financial management that people in the city have not seen a much greater impact on the services we all value.

“Our priorities have been taking care of people, spreading the savings, and finding innovative ways to keep delivering the services people care about.”

Central government funding to councils has been cut by 37% in real terms since 2010. A recent review of Lancashire County Council’s finances warned it is at risk of government intervention by 2020-21 if its finances become unsustainable. And up to 1,000 jobs may be lost at Bristol City Council to meet a £29m deficit.

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Jas H   13/10/2016 at 13:44

Councils effectively bankrupt by 2020, children's services and adult social care in meltdown, potholes compensation up 9% as road repairs are reduced..... yet we can still send £15 billion overseas often on unaudited projects? Priorities Mrs May?

Anthony Spencer   13/10/2016 at 16:01

Councils have had time to prepare for the eradication of the Rate Support Grant during the past few years. Councils must become more entrepreneurial to survive. Sadly many Councils have failed to grasp the nettle and in particular overspending Labour Councils who waste money. It is sad that as a result of their incompetence that people lose their jobs.

Marya   13/10/2016 at 17:40

With that level of cuts, massive £s, big numbers, while I accept things are difficult, it just tells me the council had money to burn in the first place, and that it was money that could have improved front line services at the time. Social care has always been the poor relation and care staff are the ones who paid for it by having lower than deserved payrates, thanks to council's attitude to 'cheap is better' and refusing to pay the actual costs. Now recruitment is almost impossible as the reputation of poor pay has stuck to care like glue. And this is down to the council's historical attitude to the care sector. You reap what you sow - and the service users and our valuable staff pay the costs - and the providers go bust and exit the market.

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