Jobs-at-risk list tops 160,000

The number of jobs cut or threatened with the axe at local authorities has passed the 160,000 mark, with more councils set to announce redundancies in the coming weeks.

The GMB union, which has been tracking council announcements as a result of the Government's spending cuts, said 162,000 jobs were now under threat at 290 authorities.

In nearly all of the councils, a 90-day statutory consultation period is under way on how to deal with the redundancies.

Most councils have given notice that they plan to cut vacant posts and seek volunteers for early retirements and redundancy, said the GMB.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said today: "The Government is deliberately creating unemployment on a scale that we have not seen before.

"The Government spending plans not only threaten these 162,718 council posts and job losses in the rest of the public sector, but there are additional job losses in the voluntary Big Society sector and in the outsourced private sector.

"Many workers have already taken voluntary redundancy and frozen posts have not been filled, which is why unemployment will carry on rising.

"Frontline services for the most vulnerable people in our society are being affected by the cuts. The impact for those who depend on these services will be devastating. Some services, like meals on wheels in some authorities, are now only available to those at death's door."

The GMB said it did not believe the private sector would create enough new jobs to make up for the cuts in local authorities and other public sector organisations such as the police and fire service, accusing the Government of taking an "almighty gamble" with the economy.

The union said the regional total of job losses under threat because of the council cuts were:

North East, 9,488; North West, 29,812; Yorkshire and the Humber, 21,233; East Midlands, 11,909; West Midlands, 21,504; Eastern, 10,176; London, 15,390; South East, 13,596; South West, 11,802; Wales, 2,446; Scotland, 15,362.

The report follows a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development warning that redundancies were set to increase "sharply" in the next few months, with most public sector employers planning to cut jobs.

Two-thirds of public sector organisations will axe jobs in the first three months of the year, rising to three out of four in local government, it was predicted.