No shift in total job cuts at County Council

Lincolnshire County Council will still cut more than 1,000 jobs over the next four years — though not all at once, the authority announced on Monday.

Only 426 full-time posts will be lost during this year, rather than the 607 predicted in January. This represents a 19% reduction in the council’s workforce.

Savings of £125 million have to be made at the council following government cuts; £30 million of this is being met by cuts in the workforce, with £20 million of those workforce cuts made this year.

Around 75% of redundancies will be voluntary or from closing vacant posts. This will actually cost the council £19.5 million, though it says this is accounted for in its savings.

The worst hit departments will be Customer Service and Performance & Governance

Councillor Martin Hill, the Conservative Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said: “There is an issue that, obviously, people have less spending power in the local economy … that’s why one of the areas we protected was economic development. We’re very keen to make sure we continue to develop business.”

He is “fairly confident” that the other £95 million of cuts are secure and that, after the 1,000 jobs go, further redundancies would not be relied on to make up the £125 million — though he couldn’t give definite assurances.

“You’ve got to remember, only 27% of our budget is on personnel, whereas a typical county council is probably twice that. So we always knew we’d have to find the majority of savings elsewhere.

“We have to get there, we will get there … but government policies change, so I can’t sit here and say in two years’ time we’ll be doing something else. If everything stays on a stable course we’re confident we’ll get to where we need to.”

“We’re very clear that the new government came in with a dire financial state and I think most reasonable people accept that we have to take these measures now. We accept the government’s case that it had to be,” Hill added

Robert Parker, Leader of the Labour Group on the County Council, said: “It’s confirmation of some disappointing news. It’s slightly better than was being forecast, but it’s still not good news for a number of reasons.

“One is it didn’t have to be like this. The way it’s portrayed is almost deterministic, that ‘national government said this and therefore we have to do that’. Labour put forward an alternative budget in February that said we could manage with fewer reductions in staff and with its services, but that was ignored.

“Secondly, the impact on people. Thirdly, around here, because these jobs are going it’s going to have a knock-on effect for the local economy. So it’s not good news in any sort of direction,” Parker explained.

John Sharman, Unison Branch Secretary for Lincolnshire, said: “I’m not sure we’re hearing anything desperately different to what we’ve heard all along … Almost three quarters of the council’s budget is spent elsewhere, other than employing staff. I think what’s not been clear in anything we’ve heard today has been how those other reductions will be achieved.”

Related Report: BBC Lincolnshire