350 more jobs to go as fresh £12m cuts bite

CONCERNED ... Merv Butler of Unison is concerned at the extent of the latest cuts.
CONCERNED ... Merv Butler of Unison is concerned at the extent of the latest cuts.

SOUTH Tyneside Council will need to make another £12m of cuts for the next financial year.

More job losses and service savings are inevitable now the borough’s provisional grant figure has been disclosed.

Council bosses are going through the fine detail of the announcement with a spokesman merely saying the Government settlement was “in line with expectations”.

But the Town Hall hierarchy had been preparing to make £12m of savings in 2013/14 – with 350 more council jobs set to go before August 2014.

Today, Merv Butler, branch secretary of Unison South Tyneside, warned the announcement would mean “more pain to come”.

And Coun Ed Malcolm, the lead member for resources and innovation at South Tyneside Council, admitted the local authority faced another “extremely challenging” year ahead.

He pledged that despite the funding cut, investment in regeneration of the borough would continue.

Coun Malcolm said: “We have already had to deal with an unprecedented series of budget cuts from Government, and expect the next two years to be extremely challenging.

“South Tyneside has already made savings of £75m and reduced staff numbers by 25 per cent since 2010, but we remain determined to protect the vital services that our communities rely on.

“Over the past three years, we have redesigned our services for maximum efficiency, improved quality through new models of service delivery and strategically planned ahead for further funding reductions.

“Despite reductions in Government funding and increased demand for services like social care, we have protected resident-facing services and secured record capital investment in jobs and regeneration, with over £200m invested in state-of-the-art schools, a £4m school and community pool nearing completion in Jarrow, and a £16m pool and leisure complex taking shape on the seafront.

“This will continue next year, with major investment in our town centres and the riverside as well as improved roads and footpaths.

“At this stage, we are still looking at the detail in the announcement, and we are expecting further information from the Government to be released in the new year.”

He said: “Once this is complete, we will prepare a final budget for consideration at a full council meeting in February, taking into account the views and ideas that residents have put forward through our latest budget consultation exercise.”

Since 2010, 800 staff have left the council through its voluntary redundancy scheme and further 400 vacant posts have been deleted following a series of service reviews.

Mr Butler said that the council’s challenge of identifying £12m of savings was a “tall order”.

He added: “If it is ‘in line with expectations’ then savings in the order of £12m will be needed, which is a tall order.

“Nationally, there appears to be a 1.6 per cent funding drop across the country, but the indications are that the Northern authorities have been hit hardest.

“The council is already considering closing day centres, we have several service reviews ongoing and any reduction in funding will inevitably put more services at risk.”

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