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City Council warns worse to come after 1,000 job cuts in Birmingham

Cuts amounting to £87 million were revealed in the authority’s 2014/15 budget proposals

More than 1,000 jobs are to be lost at Birmingham City Council

Another 1,000 Birmingham City Council jobs are being axed and services cut to the bone – but bosses warned the worst was still to come.

Cuts amounting to £87 million were revealed in the authority’s 2014/15 budget proposals on Monday.

A total of 1,080 jobs are set to go at the council, which employs 14,000 people.

Parks, street cleaning and transport will all be hit, with libraries also at risk, while a shake-up of leisure centres had already been announced.

Around £375 million had already been cut from the authority’s budget since 2010, with the workforce shrinking by a third in just five years.

But leader Sir Albert Bore admitted the pain was not over and said entire services would disappear from 2015 as local government changed beyond recognition.

“I am pleased to say we have avoided closing any service in its entirety,” he said.

“There are reductions and, indeed, some facilities will go. But the wholesale cuts will come from 2015 onwards.

“I have said these cuts will mean the end of local government as we know it, but it does not mean the end of local government.

“We now need to build the new system to replace it.


Albert Bore
Albert Bore
 

“We are indeed facing a crisis, a crisis made in Westminster and not in Birmingham. We oppose the speed and scale of the cuts.

“But, despite the extreme difficulties we face, we are determined to protect the most critical areas of service to the most vulnerable in our community.

“As a city, we must work together for a better way of running our public services in future.”

The council is battling with a £120 million cut in Government funding and the prospect of a freeze on Council Tax payments.

Sir Albert also hinted that council staff leaving under the latest redundancy scheme could be the last to walk away with enhanced packages.

In February, it emerged that workers were to be offered three weeks pay for every year served, up to a maximum of ten years.

Austerity budgets are set to continue until 2017/18, wiping another £460 million from the council’s funds.

The largest single funding reduction will see the council’s IT operator, Capita Service Birmingham, take a £20 million cut in its £50 million-a-year contract.

With legal guarantees and ring-fenced funding on social services, parts of the housing service, public health and education, other areas of council activity will bear the brunt of cuts.

A total of 32 park keepers are to be made redundant, grass cutting reduced from 26 times a year to 12, play areas and inspections reduced and the ranger service cut back as part of a £2.6 million package of cuts from the parks service.

The free bulky waste collection will go, saving £1 million a year.

And street cleaning will be reduced to save another £3 million, although city bosses argued wheelie bins replacing black bags would help keep roads clean.

But low-paid care workers could be given a boost with the council pledging to insist on the living wage £7.45 per hour minimum at private care homes used by council-funded residents.

Responding to the proposals, Conservative group deputy leader Coun Robert Alden said Labour was cutting in the wrong places.

“They are attacking the services residents use, effectively shutting down suburban street cleaning, cutting in parks, leisure centres and libraries,” he said.

“They could have done far more with human resources and legal services, such as bring in an outside company and really brought the cost down.

“They could have also driven more savings from procurement – £200,000 from £1 billion spending is a pittance. A corner shop owner could have found £5 million in savings.”

Opposition members were also scathing of the lack of clarity on cuts to libraries and social care budgets. Liberal Democrat leader Coun Paul Tilsley said: “It all seems a big muddle.

“People looking from outside must be wondering why they are proposing cuts while spending and additional £30 million on wheelie bins.”

 
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