Cuts threaten 2,000 Manchester council jobs

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Indy Politics

One of the country's biggest local authorities warned today of 2,000 redundancies, sparking threats of industrial action and taking the council jobs cull caused by the Government's spending cuts to almost 114,000.

Manchester City Council revealed it was having £110 million slashed off its budget of £500 million to £600 million this year, with tens of millions more next year, saying it will have to axe almost a fifth of its workforce.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of the Labour-controlled authority, complained about the "unfairness" of the Government's financial grant settlement for Manchester, while unions reacted with fury.

The GMB said a total of 113,765 jobs were now under threat at 145 councils across Britain, with almost all of the authorities involved in a 90-day statutory consultation period with unions and staff on how to deal with the cuts.

Unite raised the threat of industrial action to fight the huge number of planned redundancies in Manchester.

Regional officer Keith Hutson said: "Our members are outraged. This is the clear result of the coalition's austerity measures and cutbacks to local government funding announced before Christmas. It will have a devastating effect on services and the people that use them."

Sir Richard said: "We now have to find £110 million in savings next year - £60 million more than expected - because of front-loading and the re-distribution of money from Manchester to more affluent areas.

"The accelerated cuts mean we can no longer achieve the staffing reductions we have been forced into through natural turnover, which is why we are proposing a time-limited offer of voluntary severance and voluntary early retirement."

The Local Government Association, which has already warned that spending cuts will cost 140,000 jobs, said councils were being left with "no choice" but to axe posts.

Chairman Baroness Margaret Eaton said local government would have to make cuts this year of around £2 billion more than expected, adding: "The level of spending reduction that councils are going to have to make goes way beyond anything that conventional efficiency drives, such as shared services, can achieve.

"Some jobs will go in natural wastage, not filling vacancies and voluntary redundancy; however, we cannot escape the fact that some losses will be frontline posts that, given a choice, councils would not want to see go. These are the tough choices we are going to have to make."

Unison leader Dave Prentis, said: "The shockwaves of 2,000 job losses will spread across the city of Manchester and beyond. It is a tragic loss to workers who will have to break the news to their families that they are losing their jobs. It is also a bitter blow to communities who will lose services they rely on and will hit local businesses and trade.

"The Government's cuts have been targeted at some of the most deprived areas in the country and Manchester is clearly in the firing line."

Shadow local government secretary Caroline Flint said: "The breakneck speed and size of the Tory-led Government's reckless front-loaded cuts to councils will hit local jobs, economic growth and the vital frontline services people rely on."

Local Government Minister Grant Shapps said: "Labour hypocrisy on this issue is breathtaking. They admit there need to be cuts but can't say where they would fall. Ed Miliband needs to go back to his blank piece of paper and come back with a plan.

"We have been quite clear that if councils cut chief executive pay, join back office services, join forces to procure and cut out the crazy non-jobs, they can protect frontline services.

"Yet Manchester has a chief executive on a pay packet of nearly £100,000 more than the Prime Minister, who won't lead from the front and take a pay cut, and a Twitter tsar on nearly £40,000.

"It's equally disappointing that the council has so far failed to put all expenditure over £500 online so it can be exposed to full public scrutiny."