More than 500 jobs set to go across councils in region warns GMB union

Portsmouth City Council Civic Offices
Portsmouth City Council Civic Offices
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HUNDREDS of council jobs across the region are set to be axed as the pressure to save cash and balance budgets continues to grow.

Figures released by the GMB union reveal 100 posts at Portsmouth City Council are set to go, while Hampshire is seeking to get rid of 454 employees.

Portsmouth City Council leader Cllr Donna Jones

Portsmouth City Council leader Cllr Donna Jones

The union said it was now involved in ‘daily meetings’ with councils in an effort to scale back proposed cuts and the loss of services.

But Portsmouth City Council leader Councillor Donna Jones warned the government’s decision to keep reining in public spending meant job cuts were ‘inevitable’.

Cllr Jones said about 165 council staff had applied for voluntary redundancy – but only 100 will go as some who want to go are in posts which the council ‘cannot live without’.

Cllr Jones said: ‘Unfortunately, as part of the government’s ongoing austerity programme, it’s essential that we reduce council spending across the board. The largest cost we have is our staff wage bill and so it’s inevitable that there will be job losses to mitigate the reduction in funding we are receiving from central government.’

The cuts in council funding are hitting the most vulnerable in society.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Portsmouth Lib Dem leader

But Lib Dem group leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson warned: ‘The cuts in council funding are hitting the most vulnerable in society.’

The proposed job losses the GMB is dealing with amount to more than 25,000, with the highest number proposed at Glasgow City Council – 3,000.

Leader of Hampshire County Council Councillor Roy Perry, said: ‘The authority needs to deliver savings of £113m by the 2017/18 financial year, assuming that council tax is increased next year and in 2017/18. The funding gap from the original anticipated savings of £98m, is a consequence of £48m being cut from Hampshire County Council’s government grant for 2016/17. Proposals to deliver £98m of the savings were approved by the county council in October last year. Later this week, the county council’s cabinet will consider budget proposals for 2016/17.

‘While it’s too early to say with any certainty what the final figure may be, it’s estimated that a total of 454 full-time equivalent posts could be potentially impacted by 2018/2019 as a result of the savings proposals agreed in October.’

GMB national officer Justin Bowden said: ‘Councils are now making cuts to services they offer the general public, like bin collections every three weeks or ending cleaning gullies, as well as severe cuts to services for the elderly and for children.

‘Regular home helps and hot meals on wheels are from a bygone era. So much for David Cameron’s claim that front-line services would not be cut.’