Jobs shock stuns Suffolk County Council

AN ESTIMATED 135 jobs are to be slashed from Suffolk County Council's workforce as the county braces itself for another year of cuts, it was announced today.

AN ESTIMATED 135 jobs are to be slashed from Suffolk County Council's workforce as the county braces itself for another year of cuts, it was announced today.

After already enduring a year of misery brought about by redundancies and slashed budgets, the authority warned there is to be more of the same next year.

On the back of 112 jobs which were cut this year, an extra 135 full time equivalent posts face the guillotine as the council struggles to find £22million in savings in 2007/2008.

Council chiefs broke the news to union leaders and immediately faced condemnation from the unions, which warned the county's most vulnerable - the elderly and young - would suffer.


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This year the council had to find a staggering £24m in savings, despite hiking council tax by 4.5per cent.

The council has found itself once again short of funds when beginning to set the budget for 2007/2008.

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Among the cuts proposed are £12.2m from the adult and community services budget, which includes care for vulnerable elderly people, and £4.4m from the children, schools and young people budget.

Councillor Jane Storey, responsible for resources, finance and performance, said: “We know last year was devastating. We know it's not going to be much better this year.”

The council says the problem has been brought about by insufficient funding from the Government. It also said the county's growing elderly population was putting extra pressure on services.

It has asked each of its departments to identify potential savings of 10pc - a move it also used for this year's cuts.

Jeremy Pembroke, leader of the council, said: “Each year more and more people are coming into our care but government funding is failing to keep pace and failing the people of Suffolk.

“The government's lack of recognition of this issue will seriously disadvantage the most vulnerable in Suffolk.”

The council said it would be working hard to keep any redundancies to a minimum by not replacing staff when they leave and by retraining others to work in other departments.

The budget will be set on February 22.

WEBLINK: www.suffolk.gov.uk

n Are you afraid you will be affected by the proposed cuts? What do you think of the county council's funding situation? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

UNIONS today condemned the cuts to funding for services for Suffolk's vulnerable people.

A grouping of leading unions, which represent thousands of workers across the county, said they were “appalled” at the proposed cuts and warned they will impact on the most vulnerable people - the elderly and the young.

Representatives from UNISON, the Universities and Colleges Union, the Fire Brigade Union, the National Union of Teachers, the Association of Psychologists and the Community Youth Workers Union met with the council to discuss the cuts.

They said: “The brunt of these cuts will directly impact upon the most vulnerable with £12.2m from Adult and Community Services and £4.4m from Children's and Young Peoples' Services.”

The unions said their concerns were compounded by this year's cut of £23.9m. They said the cuts were threatening reductions and closures in home care, day services and respite care for older people, day services and respite services for people with learning disabilities, youth services and performing arts.

The unions' statement said: “The county council states that its aim is to support more vulnerable people to remain living independently at home and maintain quality services.

“However at the same time it is targeting the very services and staff that support this aim.

“This will increase the risk of vulnerable older people and their carers being less supported and more isolated within their own homes.

“The unions pledge to fight these callous cuts in these valued services and the threats of redundancies and reduced terms and conditions of service to these dedicated staff.”

The proposed cuts which raised the ire of the unions included:

More than £2million from the care management budget which could result in reductions to services to vulnerable people

£47,000 cut from prevention services which help people live at home

£584,000 from the Learning Disability service, which could put 40 jobs at risk

£330,000 from Performing Arts, which could risk the closure of the two remaining arts centres and/or the County Music School

The Conservative-controlled council is bracing itself for budgetary constraints next year due to fears of a poor funding settlement from Government

Despite a 4.5per cent rise in council tax rates this year the council was still left having to cut its budget by more than £24million.

Services hit by the cuts included the axing of many day care centres for elderly and vulnerable people.

Plans are afoot for the county council to share offices with district authorities to cut costs.

Notwithstanding possible service cuts of £21.9million next year, Suffolk County Council is currently working to plug a £24million hole in its finances this year.

A vital rehabilitation service for people with brain injuries, The Headway Centre at Ipswich Hospital, is threatened by closure after its funding was cut by £70,000.

In total the council is looking to shave £800,000 from its day care services budget.

The council has reduced the money it gives to the following organisations: Seckford Foundation, Woodbridge, Holm court, Kesgrave, Peppercorn House, Ipswich, Sherrington House, Ipswich, St Raphael Club, Ipswich, Foxhall Day Centre, Ipswich, Wood n Stuff, Ipswich, Oak House, Stutton, Esmond House, Orford, Hartismere Hospital, Eye, Stow Lodge, Stowmarket, Aldeburgh Hospital, All Hollows, Waveney, Pitches View, Reydon, Beetons Lodge, Bury St Edmunds, Gislingham, Laurels, Hopton & Blackbourne Day Centres, Salvation Army, Sudbury, Hazel Court, Sudbury, Age Concern, Greenfields, Haverhill, Sage Day Centre, Newmarket, Brandon Day Centre.

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