September 27th, 2016

500 more Coventry council jobs set to go in £17m cuts

500 more Coventry council jobs set to go in £17m cuts 500 more Coventry council jobs set to go in £17m cuts

ABOUT 500 more Coventry City Council jobs are set to be axed in the next round of cuts.

New budget proposals for next year also assume Council Tax will rise again by two per cent – with residents getting increasingly less for more.

The council says the rise is the equivalent of between 30 and 40p a week for a typical Coventry household.

The estimated job reductions – using early retirement and voluntary redundancy in the first instance – are on top of more than 1000 jobs lost at the authority since 2010, when the government began deficit reduction cuts.

The details are yet to be finalised on where the axe will fall on more council services – including to the vulnerable elderly, disabled and young.

As previoulsy reported, charities helping the vulnerable are also facing large cuts in their council grants – as well as organisations running the city’s arts and culture and sporting facilities.

Labour council leaders have raised the prospect of protecting some libraries which were vulnerable in previous ‘City Centre First’ proposals.

But they do not rule out some libraries closing and moving to other locations where services could be shared.

Coventry council’s ruling Labour cabinet will discuss a new finance report next Wednesday (November 25).

Council officers estimate another £17million of savings next year – on top of this year’s £15million.

They estimate around £90million in government grants has been removed since 2010 – with the council’s budget cut by more than a third so far.

The government wants to continue cutting grants, and give councils more ability to spend the revenues they raise in business rates – although the West Midlands Combined Authority is set to retain and control some business rates revenue.

The council is expecting to bring in more Council Tax as the city population continues to grow.

It wants to build homes on 10 per cent of greenbelt to make Coventry a “top ten city” with a population of over 400,000 within two decades.

Councillor Damian Gannon, finance cabinet member, said: “The council is under severe financial pressure and we have to find new ways of delivering services for residents.

“As a council we remain absolutely focused on supporting our most vulnerable residents through growing jobs and prosperity in our city while doing all we can to protect those frontline services that make a real difference.”

Of job losses, he said: “Our previous schemes have been very successful and allowed people who want to leave to go, while reducing any need for compulsory redundancies.

“We’ve also reduced the number of senior managers at the council over the last couple of years or so – saving us nearly £2million a year.

The council this year created three new director level six-figure salaried positions, and cuts at the very top level have been proportionately less than for the rest of the workforce.

The council says other work continues to cut the use of agency staff.

But Conservative opponents have raised concerns about spending on temporary lawyers – far beyond the lesser cost of in-house lawyers.

Conservative group leader, councillor John Blundell, said: “For six months the legal department at Coventry council has been relying upon expensive locum help following a number of senior solicitors leaving the council earlier on in the year due to yet another re-organisation.

“These costs, running at over half a  million pounds a year, are staggering at a time we are being told funding for the arts in Coventry is under threat and there’s not enough money to hold a referendum with regards Coventry joining with Birmingham to become part of a West Midlands Combined Authority.”

It follows the departure this summer of the council’s top solicitor Christine Forde.

Comments