Union concerns on underspend

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UNIONS have slated Doncaster Council over a £10 million underspend last year - with cash saved to be spent on computers, redundancy pay and reserves.

The money saved on efficiency last year is separate to the £71 million the authority is looking to save to meet Government cuts and comes at a time when hundreds of staff are threatened with losing their jobs.

The underspend came from reductions in spending in back-office departments, as well as VAT refunds of business rates rebates for schools and savings from improved waste management.

Robin Symonds, Unison’s regional organiser said: “It’s a kick in the teeth for those who have lost their jobs and lost front-line services.

“The council appears to be going out of its way to provoke a fight with hard working employees.

“Our members will be angry when they see this.

“Only last week the council announced plans to reduce cleaning staff in the authority. Hundreds of people are losing their jobs and this council is boasting about saving money.

“Those losing their jobs will be feeling pretty sick.

“There’s about £5 million of that figure the council has mentioned that isn’t really accounted for. It seems clear it is at the expense of our members’ jobs.”

Mayor Peter Davies said: “I have always said that there was money spent in areas of the council that was unnecessary, and this figure proves I was right.

“My priority has always been to reduce spending without affecting front-line services and this underspend will give the council much needed additional capacity to help fund the substantial changes we are now faced with. This includes one-off redundancy costs, investments in vital IT allowing our customers to access more services online and providing greater reserves.”

Council finance director Simon Wiles said: “This is a considerable achievement by all budget holders and represents a real saving that has had no direct effect on service delivery.”