187 council jobs forecast to face the axe in North Lincolnshire
UP TO 187 posts could go at North Lincolnshire Council in the current financial year, a new forecast shows.
A total of 43 senior management positions have already gone in a cost-cutting measure which saves £780,000.
A further 144 posts are forecast to go by the end of March but council bosses say they expect the eventual total to be well below this figure – and they have not revealed how much more money would be saved by any further losses.
Council leaders say two of the 43 senior management posts were compulsory redundancies and the rest of the staff were either redeployed or took retirement.
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The prediction of 187 losses is based on an average salary of £20,000, but the council says the figure will be lower because any more posts that do go will be from staff earning £50,000 or more.
And bosses are saying that anyone whose post does go will be offered the chance to be redeployed elsewhere.
In addition, the council is taking on a number of new posts – so an as yet unknown total of fresh positions will be available.
Whatever cuts do go ahead, it is understood that frontline services will not be affected.
The predicted 187 losses are part of a 2011 forecast which stated that 550 posts would be axed at North Lincolnshire Council over the following four years.
At the time, the council said this was as a result of the local authority being made to tighten its budget and make savings of £15 million over the next four years to meet a drop in its Government funding.
North Lincolnshire Council Leader Liz Redfern said: "We have worked really hard to reduce council waste and therefore we have been able to minimise job losses. By cutting the money the council spends on consultancy by more than £1 million, we have been able to seriously improve our spending on the true priorities of residents.
"We always said we would remove posts of more than £50,000.
"If we have to remove posts, we always go to those that are of high value."
North Lincolnshire councillor Mark Kirk, leader of the opposition Labour group, said: "Any job loss in North Lincolnshire, whether it be in the public or private sector, is a tragedy.
"Here in North Lincolnshire we have received the sad news surrounding the future of Kimberley Clark, Lloyds TSB and others, while in the region a similar picture has emerged in relation to BA Systems and Smith & Nephew.
"Locally, I only hope that we see a commitment to the safeguarding of young apprentices that have been taken on, by securing a long-term future for them within North Lincolnshire Council."
Dave Monaghan, regional officer for the Humber district of Unite which represents many council workers, said: "Whatever the numbers of redundancies we end up with, the sheer stress is faced by everybody who might have been made redundant – and this stress spreads to families and communities. As a result, people reduce their spending and the recession continues.
"Getting the debt down is one thing. We don't dispute that.
"But unless we grow the economy, halt the cuts, and strategically invest to bring unemployment down, these problems won't get better.
"In the meantime, Unite will do its utmost to protect members and support them through these difficult times."
Latest figures show the council has 5,891 employees but it is not the only authority making cuts. Lincolnshire County Council has cut 1,000 jobs since the end of 2010. North East Lincolnshire Council has also made 19 compulsory redundancies in 2012/13 to date out of a total of 82 redundancies.
And Hull City Council announced in November 2012 that it would be removing 170 full-time posts, which is equivalent to 240 employees. The cuts North Lincolnshire Council is considering are all to its budget, which is funded principally with Government cash and money it raises through taxes.
And the council will also face cuts of 1.7 per cent to its Government funding for 2013/14, after communities secretary Eric Pickles announced big cuts in funding for all councils.
The move would see the Government sum paid to the council drop by hundreds of thousands of pounds, although the council cannot yet say how much the cut will amount to.
The wealthiest councils face average funding cuts of 8.7 per cent for 2013/14.
But North Lincolnshire Council bosses say they had forecast the figure for the area would be higher – and say the region has been spared the worst cuts.
Council sources told the Telegraph the cut was lower than the 2.5 to three per cent reduction they had expected.
The news on forecast cuts follows the announcement that 70 community workers' jobs are currently under review in a shake-up of youth services in North Lincolnshire.
The announcement comes as part of plans to invest in overnight outdoor residential activities for youngsters.
In order to provide the new opportunities, 70 jobs are to be reviewed, with 20 new posts being created – leaving 50 people to find a suitable role within the youth service or elsewhere in the council.
This will take place in the coming months, although council bosses say they will do everything they can to ensure the changes do not result in job losses.