From the TUC

Cuts Watch #398: More cuts and job losses announced in Local Government

03 Mar 2011, by in Cuts Watch

Hampshire County Council has agreed its budget for 2011/12 last week. It has been reported that almost 1,200 jobs are set to be cut by the council after it approved £55 million of savings. The council employs 15,000 people; the cuts represent 8% of the workforce.

Opposition councillors estimate that the four year financial saving target for the council is £100m. The savings proposed include Hampshire County Council wanting to reduce the number of children’s centres from 81 to 53, focusing services on more deprived areas. The council is planning to move from the existing model of 81 individually managed children’s centres to a total of 53 merged centres, in a bid to save £6m. The children’s centre consultation is open until 14 March.

Cumbria County Council has agreed to £33 million of spending cuts for 2011/12, leading to reductions in services and an estimated 611 job losses.  The Council’s deputy leader, Labour’s Stewart Young, said:

This has been the most difficult budget most of us have ever been involved in, in the face of the worst financial settlement we have ever received. … We are making net savings of £33m next year but further savings will follow for at least the three subsequent years.”

The cuts include:

  • Grants for children’s services, putting some Sure Start Centres at risk;
  • £480,000 on day services for the elderly, leading to closure of some day care centres;
  • Closure of some household waste recycling centres and reduced hours at others;
  • Reduced staff levels at some fire stations;
  • £346,000 in rural bus subsidies, putting some routes at risk;
  • Payments to private sector care providers;
  • £1.186m from the Connexions youth service;
  • £603,000 in sports grants and £68,000 in grants to cultural organisations.

Lancashire County Council has approved its budget for the next three years, which includes cuts of £179million. The council has said it still has to decide exactly how it will go about making the cuts. Some of the proposals are currently out to consultation and therefore the shaping of these services has still to be determined.  

It has agreed to spend £133m less on management and administration over the next three years. The measures will see the closure of at least one respite care home in the county, cuts to social services and bus routes, and job losses. The GMB union has said that up to 6,000 jobs are under threat. Dorset County Council has agreed £31m of budget cuts, and more than 500 jobs will be lost at the Council.

The council have agreed to axe £200,000 from school crossing patrols and £800,000 from its library budget, which will see some closures. It will also reduce road maintenance in rural areas, some youth services and passenger transport to help balance the books.

The council employs 4,500 staff, who are being asked to take a 5% pay cut by taking 12 days of unpaid leave. The Dorchester-based council is currently consulting with  unions about taking 12 days unpaid leave and other changes to terms and conditions, which could come into effect by January 2012.

Council leader Angus Campbell said front-line services will inevitably be affected in the future. He said the council had lost out on about £18m in government grants, and that

 “this is the harshest local government settlement in living memory” 

Suffolk County Council has approved a number of cuts which will see care homes closed, lollipop patrols axed, open access to youth clubs stopped and library services slashed. The local news reports that in order to make savings of £42.5m in the next 12 months, every single school crossing patrol will be axed, the subsidy to meals on wheels will be withdrawn and £350,000 will be slashed from the library service –putting 29 out of 44 facilities at risk of closure.

A significant £12m is being saved by closing or selling 16 care homes, open access to youth clubs will stop, and 18 waste centres will shut. The £42.5m savings are the first step in a three-year austerity programme that could see the council’s budget shrink by up to £125m overall.

Gloucestershire county council have approved a four-year programme of cuts totalling £114m. The plans will see 22 youth centres and 10 libraries close unless communities come forward to run them. The council is looking to save around £3.6m in youth services. Four day care centres will also close to save £2m over three years.  The council is also looking to cut bus subsidy by £2m, it currentlyprovides subsidies for more than 150 bus services all across the county. Farmland and other assets are also planned to be sold off. Over the next four years the council’s total staff will be reduced by 1,000 people, this equates to one in six staff.   

Mandy Brown, who has severe learning disabilities, spends three days a week at a day care centre in Gloucester which will now close. She has been going there for nearly 30 years. 

 “I’ve got friends there I’ve known through the school I used to go to, I just don’t want to see it close. The staff there are brilliant… please don’t let it close.”

Users of the affected day care centres will be offered personal budgets to pay for similar services elsewhere, but some of their families say it will not be practical.