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
Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
  • 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

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing