Straw forecasts big job losses

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Indy Politics
THOUSANDS of jobs will be lost, and many key services axed, because of the Government's underfunding of local government, Jack Straw, Labour's environment spokesman, warned yesterday.

He published an independent report by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) which cites evidence of likely job losses or service cuts, or both, in 80 councils in England. Mr Straw said: 'No part of the country will be exempt from council job losses.'

According to the report: 'Local government is facing a financial crisis, with local services at risk in many areas, and potentially large-scale job losses for council workers. Whether by natural wastage, voluntary redundancy, early retirement, or compulsory redundancy, these job losses will have a severe impact upon local services and upon local economies.'

Manchester had to make cuts of pounds 25m-pounds 35m; Harlow had to shed up to 400 jobs out of a total of 1,700; Lewisham, which has lost 2,500 jobs in the last three years, expects to lose 400 this year.

Birmingham will have to shed 1,000 jobs because of cuts approaching pounds 55m. The front-line services such as education and social services will not be affected but road works, maintenance and employment training will be hit.

Throughout the country, the most vulnerable would suffer, Mr Straw said. 'Residential homes and day centres for elderly and handicapped people will be closed and there will be additional charges for home helps and meals on wheels. The improvement in class sizes in the last fifteen years has been wiped out in the last three years because of the cuts. This is the worst year of any in the past fourteen.'