Jobs threat in new round of cuts

By Dan Santy Thursday 20 December 2012 Updated: 03/01 08:48

MORE jobs and services could be at risk as Warwickshire County Council prepares for a new round of savage cost-cutting.

Finance chiefs have told councillors the authority needs to find another £92 million of savings between 2014 and 2018 - on top of the £60 million it will already have cut by then.

The county council has already been forced to close libraries, youth clubs and care homes to save cash, and now streetlights are being switched-off in the latest controversial money saving move.

The authority is currently hammering out the details of next year's budget, and the implications this will have in future years are, The Observer understands, being carefully considered.

Come February, when the next budget is set, the county council will already have made £15 million of savings for 2013/14 - but will be left to find another £92 million in the following four years.

Warwickshire County Council has already shed around 1,800 jobs - a tenth of its workforce - since austerity measures kicked in.

County council leader Alan Farnell said: "It has been suggested this will mean many more job losses for the authority.

"All we can say at the moment is the savings plan for 2014 onwards will be considered over the next 12 months, but at the moment any job losses have not been identified.

"The authority is working to deliver plans put in place to meet the savings required over the last two years. This has resulted in job losses of around 1,800 staff.

"It is likely further reductions will be required as the period of austerity continues. At this stage there are no definite plans for further staffing reductions and we are seeking to manage any downsizing through natural wastage, including retirement and also redeployment.

"We are keeping our staff informed and we are supporting them through these difficult times."

Most of the authority's budget comes from council tax, and while finance officers have suggested the rate paid by people in the county be increased by two per cent, councillors are almost certain to keep it frozen and instead take a Government grant as compensation.

Cuts in Government grants in certain areas are likely, including funding for services for vulnerable people, community safety and early intervention work in families where children could be at risk.

Chancellor George Osborne's recent Autumn Statement confirmed austerity measures were being extended by a year to 2018 in a bid to tackle the country's national debt.

The full extent of the situation will be clear in February when the county council meets to set its budget for the year ahead.

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