Wakefield Council is planning to cut nearly 140 jobs after losing £7.5m through cuts to area based and capital grants, with 42 posts going in Family Services and another 62 in Communities, including cuts in neighbourhood patrols.
Now the Labour-run council is cutting redundancy pay for staff just before the job losses start. Councillors have agreed to proposals to reduce existing arrangements in order to save money on redundancy payments as the job cuts go through.
Wakefield justifies the move on the grounds that its current scheme is more favourable than others in West and South Yorkshire. While most neighbouring local authorities stick to statutory redundancy pay for all redundancies, Wakefield is one of a handful to offer a top-up in order to act as an incentive for staff to take voluntary redundancy, with just the statutory offer for compulsory redundancies.
Under the new proposals, which have gone out to consultation with trade union officials, this top-up will be cut by two thirds. Compulsory redundancy pay will remain unchanged.
Council leader Peter Box said in a public statement: “The months ahead will be very difficult and will inevitably mean job losses. Council has agreed to a revised package of voluntary redundancy and retirement to try to save money as the costs of this are significant. While we need to make redundancies to get us in shape for the future, we also need to find a way to pay for this in the short term.”
Most of the pain has yet to be felt. Wakefield was already facing a £10m funding gap for 2011/12 and a £30m budget shortfall over the next three years. The predicted 25 percent government funding cuts will worsen this picture considerably. Details of both in-year and long term cuts are still to be finalised, but Cllr Box has warned that fees and charges levied by the council are likely to rise.