Jobs scrapped in council’s budget

Local elections. May 2008.'Peter Box. Labour. Altofts & Whitwood.'w3843n819
Local elections. May 2008.'Peter Box. Labour. Altofts & Whitwood.'w3843n819

THOUSANDS of jobs are set to be scrapped as Wakefield Council tackles it toughest ever budget.

Cabinet members will meet next Tuesday to decide where to cut £67m from public spending over the next four years - £19m in savings in 2011/12.

It is estimated that 1,700 people will lose their jobs over the period, with 500 expected to go in the next 12 months – from redundancies, not filling vacant posts, voluntary redundancy and voluntary early retirement.

Leader of Wakefield Council Peter Box, said: “This is the toughest budget in living memory and we’ve been left with no choice but to cut some services and jobs, something I deeply regret.

“The next four years are going to be really challenging, but we will do all that we can to continue to provide high quality services for the people of Wakefield, albeit in a different way.”

Cuts are set to include a 28 per cent reduction in the number of senior management posts across the council, from 93 to 67, saving £1.7m, with the corporate management team volunteering a five per cent pay cut.

It also plans to reduce the collection of garden waste to monthly instead of fortnightly, and will scrap the 24-hour streetscene rapid response team.

The price of school meals will increase by 20p to £1.80.

The council said it will prioritise safeguarding children and protect vulnerable adults by keeping the existing eligibility criteria for care services to ensure those most in need of services receive them.

Coun Box added: “We’ve been forced into making cuts we don’t want to make, but at the same we are doing all we can to prioritise services that mean the most to local people, protecting services for vulnerable people and those most in need.”

If the cabinet agrees to the plans then it will go forward for final approval at full council on March 1.

The council will still spend around £700m next year, including £400m on services for residents, £200m on schools, and £100m on providing benefits for those in need.

It said it would continue to provide or commission services for families through childminding services, children and family centres and nurseries, help older people through residential care homes, community meals and day care and help carers.

In addition, the council said it would invest in providing education to all children and young people, encourage more recycling and work with residents to improve green spaces, maintain environmental cleanliness and safety.

Joanne Roney, chief executive, added: “We started making efficiency savings two years ago, and have achieved £20m since then. A further £4m of back office savings are planned next year, making us an even leaner council.

“We already are lean, spending just three per cent of our budget on corporate services, and across the council we have a 77:23 per cent split of staff delivering frontline services compared with back office support, a high ratio compared with similar councils.

“We will need to deliver services differently in the future, as a smaller council, but we will still be responsible for spending around £700m a year on services for the people of Wakefield, around £50m of which will be with local businesses.”

The council promised to help the economy through regeneration projects such as Trinity Walk and The Hepworth Wakefield which both open later in the year, which they say will boost jobs and visitor numbers in the area.