Council's festive message - job losses

STAFF at Mid Suffolk District Council have been warned that measures being considered to address next year's budget deficit include axing up to 30 jobs.

STAFF at Mid Suffolk District Council have been warned that measures being considered to address next year's budget deficit include axing up to 30 jobs.

The authority is looking at shedding the posts - just weeks before Christmas -from its 550 employees as the Conservative administration strives to reduce costs.

Union leader Stuart Davey, Unison chairman at the authority, said: "Some people have been quite distraught, some went home after being told. Some have been in tears.

"We are in a dire financial position. There is no such thing as a job for life, even in relatively secure local government. Harsh decisions have to be made.

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Mr Davey added: "Seventy per cent of the cost to the council is from staff. You can't balance the books without cutting staff, but this must effect our service delivery."

The effect of the recent financial settlement grant from central government is a reduction in income of £577,000, leaving the council to tackle a budget deficit next year of some £1.57 million.

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One-to-one discussions have been held with individuals whose posts are directly affected and employees have been told that the council's Executive Committee meeting next Wednesdaywill consider a range of proposals to increase income and reduce operating costs.

A statement to all staff from council chief executive Andrew Good, and his senior management group, said: "Within the community there is real anxiety about the impact of council tax, but equally there is divided opinion about the services people feel are important in relation to the money they pay.

"In seeking to close the budget gap, the senior management group and the administration have been considering a range of options, from increasing car parking charges and closing public toilets to freezing members allowances.

The statement added: "The administration have also, reluctantly, felt obliged to consider an increase in council tax higher than their original target.

"Whilst all of these measures will help, they cannot solve the problem and we are still faced with the need to reduce the number of staff we employ. Some of this is already being achieved by not filling all vacancies, where that is an option, but we can not avoid the necessity to remove some posts, which are currently occupied.

"The senior management group have debated this at length and have concluded that staff would prefer to know sooner rather than later the possible impact of what is being considered, even before the proposals have been formalized.

"It must be stressed that this does not mean that these staff are under immediate risk of redundancy.

Mr Good added that the proposals may be amended by the executive and scrutiny committees and redeployment or voluntary redundancy will be considered.

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