MORE than 400 local authority jobs could be lost as Cheshire West and Chester Council restructures to meet Government demands for additional budget savings.
‘Unavoidable’ staff reductions – which would save £14.7m – are among the budget options currently out to public consultation which are aimed at bridging a £49m financial gap over three years.
Today, Friday December 10, council leader Mike Jones said: “In an ideal world we would not be considering further job losses and we will do everything we can to manage this situation with empathy and understanding.
“However, the stark reality of this situation is that you cannot save this amount of money – and protect services – without being forced into making some extremely difficult decisions.”
If agreed, council staff reductions over the next three years will focus mainly on senior and middle management posts, but also affect staff across the board in six council services.
With an annual turnover of around 350 employees, the council hope that the reductions will be affected through natural causes, such as retirement and career change, and voluntary redundancy with little or no compulsory redundancy.
If agreed, there will be full consultation with members of staff and union representatives at director and departmental level and all proposals will be considered by scrutiny committees covering the relevant services.
Since its inception in 2009, Cheshire West and Chester Council has shed around 1,200 staff.
The council said involved only ‘a handful’ of compulsory losses.
CWAC said in four years, it has absorbed more than £40m of reductions in central grant while saving £113m through financial management and re-organisation.
Clr Jones added: “We will continue to restructure, innovate, increase efficiency and eliminate waste and duplication by sharing services with other authorities, while doing everything to protect frontline services, especially for vulnerable children and elderly residents.
“If it were not for similar actions taken since 2009, we would certainly have been facing the nightmare situation predicted by many of our hard-hit fellow local authorities across the country.”
Of the £113m saved, the council said £44m has been reinvested into frontline services, leaving a net saving of £69m for taxpayers – the equivalent of £629 on Band D homes.
The budget consultation closes on February 9 and ten days later members of the CWAC Executive will consider its proposals after examining the feedback from the public and stakeholders.
Final decisions will be made at full council on March 3.
In the meantime those wishing to consider the proposals and comment can do so by visiting www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/budgetconsultation