Union warns over council job cuts

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The Independent Online

Union leaders were today studying proposals for huge job cuts at a Conservative-controlled council which takes the total number of threatened redundancies across the country to nearer 150,000.

Surrey County Council will discuss spending cuts tomorrow, with estimates that 650 posts are under threat because of Government funding cuts.

But the GMB union said earlier estimates put the figure at 1,000, which it warned would hit council services.

GMB officer Paul Maloney said: "GMB officials are assessing a new paper on the cuts going to Surrey County Council cabinet meeting tomorrow which seems to estimate that 650 posts will go over the next four years.

"GMB officials are comparing this with the earlier estimate of 1,000 posts to go over the coming period. In particular they are assessing whether this latest estimate included the large number of vacancies not filled during 2010.

"Looking at the detail in the paper it is clear that these job cuts will have an adverse impact on frontline services for the most vulnerable in the county."

The GMB said last week that councils across the country had announced or threatened more than 145,000, so today's news takes that figure closer to 150,000.

Chris Leary, of Unison, said: "When the public realise what this means in reality, when their parents and grandparents lose the services they rely on, such as mobile libraries, when vulnerable adults cannot get support because there are not enough qualified staff, when young people turn to crime and delinquency because their youth services have gone, the people of Surrey will not just stand idly by and let the politicians decimate services.

"We will defend our members' jobs and support them in whatever action they choose to take, including lawful industrial action."

A Communities and Local Government Department spokesman said: "The Government has delivered a tough but fair settlement ensuring the most vulnerable communities were protected. If councils share back office services, join forces to procure, cut out the non-jobs and root out the over-spends then they can protect frontline services.

"Driving down the nation's deficit is the Government's biggest priority, but we have made sure that extra money, powers and funding freedoms are available to protect frontline services and the public from council tax rises, offering real help to hard-working families and pensioners."