Wolverhampton City Council to axe 2,000 jobs because of central Government spending cuts

Council leader says 'painful' decision have to be made after 'main source of income' Government grant is cut by half

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The Independent Online

Wolverhampton City Council has announced it will have to axe 2,000 jobs, hundreds more than previously expected, because of "savage" central Government budget cuts.

The local authority is the latest to reveal its budget for the coming year, and has sparked fears around the country that other councils will face similar mass redundancies.

The public sector is one of the biggest employers in the midlands city, at 27.4 per cent of all jobs compared to the UK average of 18.8 per cent, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Those who do keep their jobs with the council will have their working week cut from 37 to 35 hours and their sick pay rates adjusted, as it looks to cut its budget by £123 million in the next five years.

Wolverhampton has already been identified as one of the local authorities set to raise council tax by 1.99 per cent, the maximum amount possible without triggering a referendum.

Karen Leonard of the GMB said: "Today's announcement of a jobs cull in Wolverhampton is a devastating blow to GMB members, who now face an uncertain future. Jobs and working hours are under threat.

"Those who survive the jobs cull can expect a pay freeze, equating to a real terms pay cut, and an ever increasing workload."

The Labour-controlled council had been anticipating the need to cut 1,400 jobs by 2015, but that number has now risen by 600. A further 600 position have already gone since the coalition Government came to power in 2010.

Council leader Roger Lawrence warned of "painful" decision to be made, and said that no area of the council would be left untouched by the cuts.

"We've made no secret of our financial position and these budget proposals are a direct result of the savage cuts central Government is making to our budget," he said.

"No organisation or individual could sustain losing half of their income without having to radically reduce spending. We are no different - but when a council reduces its spending that means services people value get cut and jobs are lost."

Andrew Johnson, the cabinet member for resources, said he felt the Government cuts were "targeting poorer areas of the country".

He told BBC News: "Wolverhampton is the 20th most deprived area in England. We have been targeted more than the wealthy areas.

"But we have a duty to the people of Wolverhampton to set a balanced budget and we are determined to do that."