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Posts and services could be hit by budget shortfall
Up to 136 workers, including top directors, could lose their jobs in a new wave of cost-cutting as Bradford Council desperately tries to make a £30 million reduction in next year’s budget.
A document leaked to the Telegraph & Argus reveals that children’s services, finance, adult services, environment and sport and culture could all lose staff and have vacancies scrapped as part of a shake-up aimed at saving millions.
The proposed £30m budget reduction would be met by cutting £3 million from the staff budget, £13m from non-staff reductions and increasing income by £14m.
Proposals including closing three district cash offices, where people pay council tax and water bills, at Britannia House, Bradford, and Keighley and Shipley town halls, with the total loss in the finance department of 32 jobs.
And axing non-statutory services in the future such as economic development, youth services, and sport and leisure cannot be ruled out as the Council feels the full force of central Government cuts and changes to legislation.
A 90-day consultation with the unions began last week because of the sheer number of jobs under threat which could include compulsory redundancies and could affect services helping vulnerable adults, children and pensioners.
In adult services 22 members of staff already seeking voluntary redundancy, the majority of them social workers, have been deferred. That department is believed to have been ordered to save £7.34m, but it is hoped to make that saving through additional NHS funding.
The original overall saving was originally set at £23.4m but that was increased after changes including central Government halting council tax rises from two per cent to 2.5 per cent and changing the rules on business rates charged for empty buildings.
Bradford Council leader Councillor Dave Green said that the full budget document would be released next week.
“We went to the unions because we needed to discuss with them, as laid down by law, potential redundancies, which is what we have done,” he said.
“The ludicrous thing, which just proves that there is no such thing as joined-up Government, is that we actually won’t know what our final Government settlement figures are until two weeks after we take our budget to the Executive on December 4.
“Inevitably front-line services are going to be affected next year and the year after because we are in a situation where the cuts being imposed on local Government are just not sustainable.”
Linda Crowther, Unison’s branch secretary who represents 6,000 Council staff, said that it was a “bitter pill” but worse was yet to come.
“Up to £50m of savings needs to be found in 2014/15 and the only way to achieve that is to stop doing something and that is the scary thing for us,” she said.
Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, the Liberal Democrat group leader on the Council, said: “The budget is going to be very challenging but the Labour group needs to make choices and is spending millions on painting and decorating.”
Conservative group leader, Councillor Glen Miller, said that it was sad when anyone lost their job, but he added: “We have got to realise the state the economy was left in by the previous government. It has caused everyone to tighten their belts.”