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Extra 50 jobs to go at council
9:00am Monday 21st January 2013 in News
AN EXTRA 50 posts are set to go at Swindon Council as the authority strives to find about £4m additional savings to close an estimated £16m budget gap for 2013/14, the Adver can reveal.
Before Christmas, the Conservative cabinet revealed in its draft budget proposals to deal with £4.7m in assumed reduced funding, £3.5m in inflation and £7.9m of other cost pressures, including increased demand for services, particularly caring services.
The document outlines £13.2m worth of savings, including just over £2m, year-on-year, from the deletion of 70 council posts before April, although about half of these are already vacant due to a recruitment freeze of non-essential posts.
To plug the £16m gap, the council still needed to identify £3m of extra savings – and this later increased to £4m due to lower-than-expected Government funding.
Now Rod Bluh, the council leader, has revealed that an estimated £1m of these extra savings are proposed to come from slashing another 70 council jobs, although he says the headcount could increase as the final proposed budget is put together.
Coun Bluh said: “There were the original 70. We now think the figure is up to 120 posts of which about 50 are vacant. So there are about 70 people who are in the frame but that’s not to say that’s the end of it. There could be some changes over the next few days because there’s work ongoing.”
He said the council was coping by redesigning services but the budget pressures were starting to impact the frontline, adding: “All of these will have an impact. We aren’t saying there’s no impact to what we’re doing. We’re doing our level best to minimise the impact of what we’re doing by reorganising.”
Details of which service areas would be affected by job losses, and the remaining proposed savings to close the £4m gap, will be published later this month in the papers for cabinet on February 6.
Letters have been sent to staff in the first 70 threatened posts and the other 50 will be consulted soon.
Coun Jim Grant, Labour group leader, said: “It is very concerning that the Conservative administration will be making more job losses in order to close the council’s budget gap.
“What I’d say to the leader of the council is avoid frontline job cuts.
“To do this, we may need to look again at senior management and we can definitely cut a big chunk of the £1.8m the council spends on consultants.”
Bob Cretchley, secretary of the Swindon Unison branch, said there were alternative savings to sacking staff but every service had been hit recently, adding that there seemed “endless” money available for work fitting into the administration’s agenda, such as the housing ballot.
He said: “It’s restructuring, after restructuring, after restructuring.”