Council job losses set to top 37,000

The number of job losses planned at councils in England and Wales because of Government spending cuts has increased to over 37,000 in recent weeks, a new study revealed today.

The GMB union said 27 local authorities had announced or threatened staff losses, with many more set to follow suit as the scale of their budget cuts becomes known.

Thousands of workers are also facing pay cuts of between 2.5% and 5.4% in areas including Rochdale, Barnsley and Southampton, said the GMB.

The union has written to the Government urging it to protect the earnings of low paid council employees.

National officer Brian Strutton told Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles that the coalition had promised to protect workers earning less than £21,000 from the effects of the financial deficit restructuring.

"Home care workers, school dinner ladies, street cleaners and classroom assistants did not cause the financial deficit and are entitled to call on the Government to keep its promise to protect them from the fall out," he said.

Threatened job losses included 6,000 in Lancashire, 3,000 in Leeds, Norfolk and Greater Manchester Police, 2,500 in Stoke-on-Trent, 2,400 in Shropshire, 2,000 in Sheffield and Derbyshire and 1,800 in Warwickshire, said the GMB.

Thousands of workers in Birmingham, Walsall, Croydon, Sheffield and Rhondda Cynon Taff faced having new terms and conditions imposed on them, while councils across the country were having to make huge savings over the next four years, the union added.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: "Pay negotiations are entirely a matter for the local government employers and the trades unions.

"Local authorities have been aware for some time that funding reductions were imminent and should have been looking at a range of scenarios for reducing budgets next year whilst protecting the front line. We have guaranteed a £200 million capitalisation fund in 2011-12 to help local authorities manage the costs of restructuring in the short term to release savings over the long term.

"We are also giving councils greater control over more than £7 billion of funding so they can protect frontline services. However in order to achieve this, councils must do their bit and cut out waste, start sharing back office services, join forces to procure to benefit from economies of scale and bring senior pay under control."