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Thousands of council jobs to go

A further 6,000 jobs are set to be axed by Britain’s largest local authority over the next four years, its leader has warned.

In a statement to a meeting of Birmingham City Council, Sir Albert Bore said the authority estimated that funding cuts mean it will have to reduce its workforce to less than 7,000 by 2018.

Setting out what he described as grave challenges facing the authority, the Labour councillor said failure to act now would have catastrophic consequences for the future functioning of the council.

Sir Albert told fellow councillors: “Already our workforce has declined from just over 20,000 full-time equivalents to around 13,000.

“By 2018 we estimate that numbers will have to fall to around 7,000.”

Claiming that central Government had failed to listen to concerns raised about the “unfair distribution” of its austerity measures, Sir Albert added: “Clearly we cannot continue with anything like the range of activities we have delivered in the past.

“Too often we operate as if we had exactly the same resources as before and we often expect the impossible from our staff – this cannot continue.

“The simple fact is that we cannot do all that we have done in the past with two thirds, let alone one third of the staff.

“So, in future, when we, as councillors, receive requests for action from the public, we must think of the reduced resources we have and the pressure that people are operating under.

“Sometimes we will have to explain to people that we’re sorry but we just don’t have the resources to do what they are asking.”

Trade union Unite, which represents over 1,000 employees at the council, described the announcement as “a savage blow” for staff and residents who rely on its services.

Unite’s regional secretary for the West Midlands, Gerard Coyne, said: “This will be a crippling blow to the West Midlands regional economy as we estimate that for every pound spent on council staff wages 52 pence is spent locally.

“The city council faces about £200 million worth of cuts and the workforce which stood at 20,000 in 2011 will be pruned back to just under 7,000 in the next three years.

“By 2018, a total of £800 million of worth cuts will have been enforced – which equates to 60% of the controllable budget.

“This will be heart-breaking news for the council employees whose jobs are under threat and their families and further reinforces the savagery of the coalition’s austerity programme.”

Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins said: “Every bit of the public sector needs to do their bit to pay off the deficit left by the last administration, including local government, which accounts for a quarter of all public spending.

“Since 2010 Government has delivered a fair settlement to every part of the country, including Birmingham. The majority of local authorities have continued to balance their budgets whilst reducing council tax in real-terms and increased or maintained public satisfaction with services.

“All councils should be making sensible savings and keeping council tax down by merging back office services or doing more joint working.

“The Government has not announced any spending allocations for councils beyond 2015/16.”

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