William Eichler 21 June 2019

Around 25% of local government jobs ‘slashed’ due to austerity

New data from Unison has revealed that a quarter of local government jobs have been cut over the last decade as a result of austerity.

Drawing on 231 council responses to Freedom of Information requests, the union discovered that the local government headcount fell by 240,000 between 2010 and 2019. This is a 25% drop.

‘Council funding has been hammered relentlessly since 2010,’ said Unison general secretary Dave Prentis.

‘Losing a quarter of staff in the space of nine years is a stark illustration of the havoc created by austerity.'

Overall, the local authority headcount has plummeted from 966,577 to 726,572 in the space of nine years. Of these more than 108,000 were redundancies and more than 124,000 were transferred to private contractors.

Unison estimates that there are around 20 councils where staff numbers have halved in the space of nine years. Northampton Borough Council had the largest drop of 74%.

The largest drop (28%) was for staff working in education. Environmental services and social care both experienced drops in headcount of 25%.

‘These are workers delivering vital services, so there is a huge impact on the local area and vulnerable people are often the hardest hit,’ Mr Prentis continued.

‘Remaining staff face even greater pressures to make up the shortfall caused by job losses.

‘And outsourcing puts decisions in the hands of private contractors, who put profit before quality, rather than councils, which are always best-placed to know what their communities need.

‘There must be a fundamental review of how local government is financed and the billions of pounds cut from budgets must be restored before councils are damaged beyond repair.’

The union sent FOI requests to 411 local authorities. Around 366 responded, but many did not provide the correct information.

An MHCLG spokesperson said: 'Councils are responsible for managing their own budgets, and staffing decisions are a matter for them, taking into account local challenges and priorities.'

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