William Eichler 12 October 2016

Hundreds of jobs at risk as councils publish budget plans

Councils have warned that hundreds of additional jobs are at risk, as they publish plans to save millions over the next four years.

Manchester City Council has published proposals to axe around 155 jobs in a bid to close a budget gap of between £40m and £75m by 2019/20.

The city council warned ongoing central Government cuts and population pressures on services meant ‘business as usual’ is not an option.

Adult social care could see an estimated £27m worth of cuts, and children’s services, education and skills are facing £6.7m of cuts and a reduction of 29 posts.

The council’s growth and neighbourhoods directorate is also facing £9.5m of cuts and a reduction of 32 posts, while corporate care could lose 90 jobs and £15m.

The strategic direction directorate, responsible for securing investment and helping to create jobs, could see its budget cut by £400,000. It may also lose four posts.

The council emphasised these budget plans are only options and are subject to change in accordance with feedback from residents.

Manchester council has already seen its available resources reduced from £682m a year in 2010/11 to around £528m a year now and its workforce reduced by around 40%.

It has also come in for some criticism after proposing a range of above-inflation pay rises for its senior officers last August.

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.

‘We recognise that the council on its own doesn’t have all the ideas, or indeed the resources, to ensure a thriving Manchester. We can only achieve a liveable, economically thriving city where everyone has equal life chances if we all take responsibility and work together.’

Sheffield City Council has also announced it will need to make cuts of £40m next year. This is on top of the £352m it has saved over the last seven years.

‘Make no mistake, the cumulative impact of the last seven years of budget cuts has been huge,’ said Cllr Ben Curran, cabinet member for finance and resources.

‘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.’

Cllr Curran also warned there was ‘more to come’ as pressure continued to increase on services.

The council estimated its cumulative budget gap would increase from around £40m in 2017/18 to £116m by 2021/22.

Croydon Council has also published its budget plan setting out its strategy for delivering a further £45m of savings by 2020.

The cabinet member for finance and treasury, Cllr Simon Hall said: ‘We must find savings and make tough decision in the coming years as our core funding continues to shrink, but we will keep lobbying the government for fairer funding for Croydon.’

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