Up to 600 jobs could go at South Tyneside Council as part of four year budget planning process.
Council bosses have announced it is to begin formal discussions with the Trade Unions on the pending cuts.
It is anticipated over the next four years, due to reductions in government grants, the local authority will have to make savings of at least £55m.
This is in addition to over £120m it has saved since 2010.
The final figure on jobs that could be affected will not be known until later in the budgeting process. There are currently just over 2,750 people employed by South Tyneside Council.
South Tyneside Council is now informing the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills of the number of jobs that might be affected.
Formal consultations will be taking place with staff and trade unions over any potential redundancies. The Trade Unions have been informed of the forecasted figure and ongoing consultation will continue with them.
As in previous years, the council will make every effort to avoid compulsory redundancies by using its voluntary redundancy scheme, early retirement and the deletion of vacancies where appropriate.
The HR1 covers the period October 2015 to the end of March 2020 and the figure of 600 jobs reflects the maximum number of potential job losses anticipated over this 4 year period. The Council will do everything it can to reduce this figure and wherever possible avoid compulsory redundancies.
Statement from Councillor Ed Malcolm, Lead Member for Resources and Innovation at South Tyneside Council:
“I am forced to accept the submission of a HR1 indicating a loss of up to 600 council jobs by 2020. I say forced as this is not something that South Tyneside Council wishes to take forward, but rather something that has been thrust upon us by this Conservative Government.
“The future looks bleak. While the HR1 form is a legal requirement and a formal process we must undertake, it is not something that myself or colleagues relish – far from it. Our
estimate is that up to 600 council jobs could be affected in the budget-setting process which covers the term of the current parliament.
“Put bluntly – in 2020 South Tyneside Council as we know it will change dramatically. This undoubtedly will have an effect on our residents and the services which they receive.
“For the last five years the people of South Tyneside, including our own staff, have been savagely attacked by the impact of unprecedented Government cuts by the coalition. Now, the first Conservative budget for 19 years sees the cuts go even deeper. The Government grant is supposed to support councils to provide services for the vulnerable, yet we are seeing a complete disregard for local people by this Government as it removes our vital funding year after year.
“The budget in July was one that lacked compassion. Osborne continued his assault on the poor, the sick and the disabled as well as targeting his axe at hard working families.
“Massive cuts to the support available for working people will hit families with children hardest. Of course as a council we will do all we can to minimise the impact on frontline services, but while George Osborne and the Conservatives continue to play out our country’s future like some sort of PR exercise I fear many won’t be aware of the full impact until it is too late
“In the short term we will see tax breaks financed by cuts to the welfare system. We are not talking about the ‘work shy’ as some people would have us believe. It is the lowest paid workers who will feel the greatest impact – resulting in them sinking further into deprivation. Housing benefit support for adults aged 18-21 will also be abolished which could lead to homelessness.
“As well as a reduction in our staff and the impact that will have on the services that we provide, the Conservative Government will also force local authorities and housing associations to cut rents by 1% for the next four years, thus reducing the cost of housing benefit for Central Government but leaving councils like ourselves with a huge funding gap and a detrimental impact on the Council’s Housing Revenue Account. It is impossible to plan for the future when the Government continually chops and changes the rules.
“The Chancellor’s autumn statement this year is expected to indicate where the remaining £20bn of Government spending cuts will be made. This statement will provide Local Government with a clearer picture of how the sector could be impacted by funding reductions. It will not provide sufficient detail to establish the funding for individual councils. This is unlikely to be known until December. However, overall spending cuts we are forecasting are huge for this council and will take us into unknown territory. Never in our history have we faced a situation of such concern.
“If the July budget is an indicator of what is to come in the public spending review in the autumn then quite frankly I fear for public services as a whole. As the Tory Government takes away from the most vulnerable in our society it is up to us as a local authority to pick up the pieces and without the resources to do so I
fear for what will be left behind – of course we will continue to do our very best for local people, but without the resources we rely on from the Government Grant, some very difficult decisions will need to be made over the coming months and years ahead.”