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Sefton to axe up to 450 jobs as government funding slashed

Almost 450 jobs are under threat at Sefton Council as it becomes the latest authority to lay out the stark measures needed to deal with central government cuts.

The council said that it will have lost 51% of government funding between 2010 and 2020, and has already made £169m worth of savings and must find a further £64m, including by cutting between 309 and 442 jobs.

Cllr Ian Maher, Labour leader at Sefton Council, said: “Over the last six years we have delivered massive change largely due to the cuts imposed by government.

“During this time we have worked hard to protect frontline services such as the bins and social care but with cuts of this scale we have already had to make really difficult decisions and there are more of these to come.”

He added that the pressures on adult social care could not “be underestimated” and attacked the government for “refusing to provide sufficient funding” to meet them.

Sajid Javid, the communities and local government secretary, recently responded to criticism by announcing that councils would be able to raise council tax by up to 3% to fund the pressures, raising £900m.

But council leaders dismissed this move as a “short-term sticking plaster” and Cllr Maher said Sefton believed that the government should fund social care nationally, but would “seriously consider” raising taxes with no other options.

To meet its deficit, Sefton has proposed a series of drastic service restructures. The biggest of these is delivering services through multi-agency working. This is designed to allow different services to work together to address the needs of a locality, but is also intended to cut between 200 and 300 jobs, saving £9m.

In addition, the council wants to join up all services for children and adults with special educational needs and disabilities. This could lead to all 28 of the staff involved in these services losing their jobs, and save £887,000.

According to the council’s report, introducing a joined-up pathway “provides transparency, choice and independence” and “enables individuals to be more independent and resilient”.

However, it also noted that some families will “experience a reduction in their current offer”, and that the changes may be “stressful” for those affected.

Other proposals include:

  • Restructuring the Atkinson arts centre to rely more on volunteers and close the centre on Sundays, cutting 3-6 jobs and saving £414,000.
  • Reducing cleaning of civic buildings to the “minimum level” required by health and safety regulations, leading to 25 jobs losses and saving £250,000.
  • Introducing a “ground-breaking” joint approach to commissioning, cutting 6-10 jobs and saving £260,000.
  • Reviewing provision of children’s homes, cutting 4-14 jobs and saving £200,000.

Further jobs are expected to be cut in areas including street cleaning, waste collection, street lighting operation, and food hygiene inspection.

Sefton isn’t the only council to set out a programme of jobs and services cuts, with 2,000 jobs due to go at Leeds council, 130 at Salford and over 100 at Dudley.

Manchester, which had also expected to make significant jobs and service cuts, announced last week that it will be able to avoid the worst thanks to a windfall in its earnings from Manchester Airport.

Furthermore, Unison has predicted a mass exodus of back-office staff leaving voluntarily due to the pressures of trying to do their jobs on reduced budgets, after a survey found that 62% of council and school workers are considering leaving.

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