220 City of York Council jobs set to be axed amid budget gloom

First published in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by , Political Reporter

Updated: MORE than 200 York council jobs are set to go over the next two years as city leaders face a £21 million battle to balance their books.

City of York Council expects to shed 100 posts in 2013/14 and 120 more the following year in the wake of Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement.

In an email, the council’s chief executive, Kersten England, said savings of £9 million next year and £12 million in 2014/15 were likely. Unions said the job losses, while expected, were “devastating” and they fear compulsory redundancies.

The authority had to save £21 million in 2011/12 and must save £10 million more this year.

Ms England said it would now lose two per cent more Government funding in 2014/15 than expected, meaning an effective 30 per cent drop in four years.

“We will be doing everything we can to avoid the need to make compulsory redundancies and give you support through this time,” she told staff.

She said difficult decisions would need to be made, but believed “by working together, we can find solutions which respect our hardworking and professional staff and protect our services.”

Measures would include vacancy freezes, voluntary redundancy, early retirement, retraining and redeployment within the council, she said, and seeing if posts were available in other councils and York businesses.

The council said in 2010 it faced up to 650 job cuts over four years, with the 220 potential losses being the latest wave.

Heather McKenzie, CYC’s Unison branch secretary and convenor, said: “It is absolutely devastating. In recent years we have been able to mitigate against many compulsory redundancies, but the well of redeployment opportunities is running dry.

“It is a really difficult situation and we do fear for the future, but we will work with the council – they don’t feel any better about this than we do.

“We will also be speaking to the ruling Labour group about how we can signal to Government the devastation its cuts are creating, and making people aware of how job reductions affect everybody.”

Council leader James Alexander said the gravity of the situation would emerge when the council’s Government grant settlement was confirmed before Christmas. He claimed councils were being “targeted” for cuts, harming local economies.

He said: “We will do everything in our power to minimise the impact on frontline services.”

Conservative group leader Coun Ian Gillies said axing jobs was a “knee-jerk reaction”, claiming reducing council borrowing and rethinking schemes such as “spending thousands of pounds on unenforceable 20mph areas” should be considered instead.

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