Conservative-run Leicestershire County Council – cutting costs by cutting more than 600 jobs

Tory-run Leicestershire County Council is to cut more than 600 jobs as a way of cutting the deficit, Left Foot Forward has learned.

David Cameon’s policy to freeze council taxes has again come under scrutiny with news that a Conservative-run council proposed job cuts as a way of cutting costs.

The publication of Leicestershire County Council’s draft budget has identified a £66 million funding gap to be met with £47 million in efficiency savings and save £19 million in the funds spent on services. However, it has emerged that the bulk of savings will be made by cutting more than 600 staff.

In publishing the draft budget, Conservative council leader, David Parson, sought to place the blame on the Government, saying:

“We have been very honest in setting out the size of the problems we face, due to Government debt, the recession and increased demand for adult social care and waste services. We have also lost £117 million of Government grant over the last five years, compared with the average.

“We’ve worked hard to find as many efficiency savings as possible and will continue to do so, but it is inevitable that people will see a reduction in some services and higher charges.

Unions have made clear their opposition to the redundancies. Josie Nicholls, Unison’s Leicestershire Branch Secretary, told the Leicester Mercury:

“We’re appalled at proposals to cut the council’s budget by 20%. This will hit some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

The draft proposals will be subject to consultation with the full council due to vote on the final budget on February 24th.

The news from Leicestershire comes hot on the heels of a number of other Conservative councils, such as Nottinghamshire, Essex and Lancashire, which have put ideological commitments to council tax freezes ahead of securing services for the vulnerable and saving jobs.

Yesterday, Left Foot Forward reported a blow to Conservative controlled Barnet’s plans for “no frills” council services as a way of tackling the deficit, and in November, Left Foot Forward revealed councils were planning to cut 4,500 jobs, on top of the 6,700 jobs lost in the six months to March last year – with Tory-run Birmingham City Council axing 800 jobs alone.

Speaking on Sunday AM, Gordon Brown made clear that as part of a wide package of measures to tackle the deficit, Labour would raise taxes for those on the top rates. Even Shadow Business Secretary, Ken Clarke has hinted that a Conservative Government might have to raise taxes.

These examples show that when the Conservative party runs local authorities, rather than using a mix of measures to minimise the consequences of tackling deficits – such as a mix of efficiency savings and tax rises – their belief that taxes must be frozen leads inevitably to mass job losses.

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