Compulsory council redundancies set to increase

 

Compulsory redundancies in local councils are set to increase in the
next few years as the spending squeeze from central government
continues, a report warned today.

The 1.6 million people who work for England's 353 councils are the country's largest workforce, but their numbers have fallen by 145,000 over the past year and further job losses are "inevitable", said the report by the Audit Commission and Local Government Association.

The report said that the local council workforce - not including teachers, firefighters or police - peaked at the equivalent of 1.063 million full-time posts in 2007 but has since fallen to 932,800 by the middle of this year.

The overall council pay bill rose by 22% between 2004/05 and 2009/10, but has since fallen 5.6% in real terms to around £30 billion and is set to fall further, said the report.

The Work in Progress report called on councils to "strike a balance" between redundancies and restructuring as they reduce workforce costs. It cited cases of councils sharing backroom staff or removing entire layers of management to maintain numbers of frontline posts.

Audit Commission chairman Michael O'Higgins said: "Each council must find its own way of cutting costs tailored to local needs, local circumstances and its own workforce.

"Councils are often the largest employer in their area, so downsizing can affect the local economy.

"Local government is a people business, with staff costs accounting for almost half the money spent by councils, so they need to be aware of all their options and the tools at their disposal."

LGA chairman Sir Merrick Cockell added: "Funding cuts have meant workforce costs must come down. Councils have been ahead of the game in making savings and have already started to reduce workforce costs.

"Unfortunately, job losses are inevitable given the scale of cuts. Where these are necessary, councils are working hard to minimise disruption to staff and services through restructuring, shared services and outsourcing. They are also looking at how they invest in and reward people to ensure they continue to deliver the most efficient public services possible."

Brian Strutton, national officer of the GMB union, said: "The combination of central government budget cuts and councils' own decisions to keep council tax down has led to 145,000 job losses in the last year and there will be a further wave next year.

"Council workers face an unprecedented triple whammy of job losses, pay freezes and attacks on their pensions.

"Frontline council staff like dinner ladies, social workers, care staff, street cleaners, school staff and bin men are being made to pay the highest price in the economy for a financial mess they did not cause.

"As it is not possible to deflate the economy to growth and a balanced budget, the Government should act urgently to ease the budget cuts on councils so they can maintain frontline services to their communities in these difficult times as well as not adding more to the dole queues.

"The economics of the corner shop will not get us out of this mess. It did not do so in the 1930s and it won't now either."

Local government minister Grant Shapps said: "Every bit of the public sector needs to do its bit to help pay off the budget deficit left by Labour's reckless spending spree.

"Despite this, councils received a fair and progressive funding settlement that protects frontline services and shields the most vulnerable.

"The majority have been planning sensibly for smaller budgets.

"We've been clear that frontline staff and services should be protected and, as this report makes clear, the best councils are finding ways to do this by sharing back-office staff, closing vacant posts, allowing natural waste, reviewing bonus schemes and not renewing agency staff."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP & MVC Frameworks

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing company in Belvedere ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders