Magazine article Public Finance

Mounting Threat to Jobs as Councils Plan New Cutbacks

Magazine article Public Finance

Mounting Threat to Jobs as Councils Plan New Cutbacks

Article excerpt

The majority of local authorities in England are planning to cut jobs over the next 12 months, with middle management posts hardest hit

A Local Government Association survey published this week revealed that almost 7,000 local government jobs have been lost over the past six months, while 60% of councils are planning to cut posts over the next year, with a further 24% saying they are unsure.

This gloomy outlook was compounded by Unison, which claimed morale in the local government workforce had hit an all-time low. A major staff survey conducted by the union cited worries over job security as the main reason for plummeting confidence.

According to Unisons survey, published on May 14, a third of local government staff said they felt less secure in their jobs now than they did a year ago, with almost half expressing concern for the long-term viability of their jobs.

The LGA blamed the recession for the staff cuts. LGA vice-chair Sir Jeremy Beecham said cutting jobs was always a 'highly unpleasant' decision.

'Town halls are being forced to look at almost every aspect of their spending, A large number of councils are cutting posts in middle and senior management We would expect councils to make efficiency savings before cuts and they will be trying to protect posts that provide effective management' he said.

'It is particularly regrettable to have to cut frontline staff, but this demonstrates the bleak financial situation that councils are in.'

The survey showed that 88% of respondents believed middle management would be most affected by future staff reductions, although frontline staff and senior management were also likely to be affected.

The 7,000 jobs that have already been lost affected middle management and frontline staff equally, the May 11 survey said.

Beecham added that this year's pay settlement needed to be affordable to avoid the need for further redundancies.

'If the pay settlement is set too high, then local authorities will have no choice but to lay off staff, which neither the unions nor the employers want to see.'

But Heather Wakefield, Unisons head of local government dismissed this view. She told Public Finance: 'What this is about is keeping council tax low in the run-up to a general election. This is a political decision, which comes rather conveniently at a time of economic crisis. …

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