Quarter of local authority jobs axed or outsourced over last 10 years

One in four council jobs has been axed or outsourced in the past decade as a result of austerity, a new study suggests.

Staff numbers have halved in some local authorities, according to information obtained by the Unison union.

Data from Freedom of Information requests among more than 230 councils showed that employment fell by 240,000 between 2010 and this year – a 25% drop, Unison said.

Of those, more than 108,000 were redundancies and around 124,000 were transferred to private contractors, said the union.

The biggest drop was said to be among staff working in education as many schools became academies, while environmental services and social care both experienced drops in headcount of 25%.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Council funding has been hammered relentlessly since 2010. Losing a quarter of staff in the space of nine years is a stark illustration of the havoc created by austerity.

“These are workers delivering vital services, so there is a huge impact on the local area and vulnerable people are often the hardest hit.

“Remaining staff face even greater pressures to make up the shortfall caused by job losses, and outsourcing puts decisions in the hands of private contractors, who put profit before quality, rather than councils, which are always best-placed to know what their communities need.

“There must be a fundamental review of how local government is financed and the billions of pounds cut from budgets must be restored before councils are damaged beyond repair.”

He went on: “The number of people councils employ has declined consistently since 2010, whilst central government staffing has increased.

“A significant proportion of this decline is due to budget pressures as a result of having lost 60p out every £1 they had from central government since 2010, but councils have also seen a reduction in staff as schools transfer to academies and, where necessary, councils reorganise services to better meet the needs of their communities.

“Both as a significant employer in their local area providing good careers and a boost to the local economy, and in order to deliver services that local people rely on, it is vital that councils are able to recruit and retain the staff they need.

“Rising demand for local services, and the supply of high-quality staff essential for the delivery of critical services such as social care, street cleaning and education, means the Government needs to act fast.

“Councils in England face an overall funding gap of £8 billion by 2025. As part of the forthcoming Spending Review the Government needs to ensure councils receive sustainable, long-term funding to continue to deliver vital services to meet local needs.”

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