Council cuts will go ‘deeper and further’

The HR1 form which must be sent to the Government notifying them of the council's intention to make staff redundant.
The HR1 form which must be sent to the Government notifying them of the council's intention to make staff redundant.
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SHEFFIELD Council is proposing as many as 690 job losses across its services as it attempts to find savings of more than £50 million over the next year.

In an announcement, deputy leader and cabinet member for finance Coun Bryan Lodge said the cuts will go ‘deeper and further into the council’ as the authority tries to deal with its reduced budget.

Technical roles such as enforcement officers make up many of the proposed redundancies, while manual workers, clerical staff, management and professional roles are also at risk.

The council says it hopes to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies, and that many will be voluntary in the first instance.

The estimated job losses also include roles lost through early retirement, as well as vacancies that have not yet been filled.

A form has been sent to the Government giving advance notice of the cuts, triggering a statutory 90-day consultation period, and a letter has also been sent to trade unions.

The first proposed dismissal would be made next May.

“We’re facing a very difficult climate,” said Coun Lodge.

“The posts will be across all areas of the council. We’re trying our best to minimise the effect on council services and make as few cuts as possible to the frontline services.

“There are things we need to deliver.”

He said the proposal of 690 - almost 10 per cent of the council’s workforce, excluding school staff - was the ‘top estimate’ and the figure is likely to change.

“We will continue to work hard to drive that down. It’s based on where we are at this moment in time in relation to the budget.”

The council’s budget for the current financial year was slashed by £80 million, meaning 873 posts had to be axed. Only 17 of those were compulsory - the rest were voluntary.

But Coun Lodge said: “The easier options were taken last year. We’re cutting deeper and further into the council in doing these things now.

“I don’t think any of us became councillors to make so many redundancies, but we recognise the position we’re in.”

Chris Jenkinson, regional organiser for Unison, has criticised the job losses, saying there is ‘not a lot of fat left’ within the council.

The council will be taking suggestions from trade unions, the workforce and members of the public on where cuts should be made.

A letter will be sent to every household in Sheffield next month asking for residents’ views on how cuts should be made.

Coun Lodge said more savings have been identified by financing the council’s highways project differently, and reviewing office accommodation.

A complete set of budget proposals will be put forward to cabinet ahead of the final sign-off in March.