Extra cash will not save council jobs

AN EXTRA cash injection from Whitehall is unlikely to help save the axing of around 30 posts at Mid Suffolk District Council, it has been warned.The authority has been looking at shedding the posts from its 550-strong workforce as the Conservative administration strives to reduce costs – blaming a poor Government grant and a desire to keep council tax rises low.

By John Howard

AN EXTRA cash injection from Whitehall is unlikely to help save the axing of around 30 posts at Mid Suffolk District Council, it has been warned.

The authority has been looking at shedding the posts from its 550-strong workforce as the Conservative administration strives to reduce costs – blaming a poor Government grant and a desire to keep council tax rises low.

Even an extra £106,000 from the Government for the district council – recently announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown – will not make enough difference to the council as it faces up to a budget shortfall next year of some £1.57 million.

Union leader Stuart Davey, Unison chairman at the authority, said: "This is a blow and unsettling. We understand the council has not necessarily had substantial reserves available and they are having to deal with a shortfall.

"We can't prevent this, but we want to know why this has happened. To some extent it is a political thing, trying to keep the council tax down.

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"Local government is traditionally more secure, but now people are beginning to realise they are in the same predicament as a lot of other people.''

The union hopes there will be the chance for voluntary redundancies and some redeployment within the council, with people whose posts are going taking up a new role.

A spokeswoman for the council said the extra money from the Government has made no difference to the jobs at risk, and is a fraction of the budget shortfall of £1.57m.

The Conservative administration is keen to keep council tax rises low and has already looked at a whole series of ways of cutting costs at the council, including closing public toilets and freezing councillors' allowances.

The council will begin a formal consultation process with staff and the union on January 6 and there will be a meeting of the scrutiny committee to look at the impact on council services, and a further executive committee meeting.

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