Leicestershire County Council to cut more than 600 posts

More than 600 posts are to go at Leicestershire County Council plus service cuts and price increases in a bid to save millions of pounds.

The Tory administration at County Hall revealed their planned budget for the next four years yesterday – and told staff that one in 10 posts would be axed.

Departments bearing the brunt include home care, school transport, museums and libraries and road maintenance.

Council leader Councillor David Parsons said cuts would be made but promised a three-year council tax freeze if Conservatives win the General Election.

Of the 6,000 full-time positions at the council – excluding school staff – 650 will go.
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On top of that, charges for home care will rise by 50% and people currently classed as needing care might not get it in the future.

Staff were informed of the level of the cuts yesterday.

Union leaders said they were “appalled” and opposition politicians said the “pain” of the cuts was being delayed until after the General Election.

Coun Parsons argued that £66m of savings had to be made in the next four years.

The figure is £4m less than the original £70m quoted but is still equivalent to one-fifth of the current net budget – excluding schools.

He said: “I think members of the public are more prepared for this than they’ve been in the past.

“They expect a rough time and we’re trying to smooth off the rough edges.”

He argued it was his role to “protect the vulnerable” in the county, and said a £10.3m cut in the adult social care budget would not penalise the most needy.

In the budget, people classed as “moderately” vulnerable could lose out on home care.

Coun Parsons said: “If you’re not terribly vulnerable, we can’t afford it.”

He said he wants to minimise compulsory redundancies, although it is too early to say how many there would be.

Councillor Simon Galton, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats at County Hall, said: “The real pain of the £66m will not impact on the coming year and that’s no doubt because there is an election due.”

Councillor Max Hunt, leader of the Labour group, said: “We’re all suffering through a recession so it’s important to retain skilled and experienced staff.”

Josie Nicholls, Unison’s Leicestershire branch secretary said: “We’re appalled at proposals to cut the council’s budget by 20%.

“This will hit some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

About 70 per cent of the council’s £325m net budget comes from council tax. Government grants make up the rest.

As part of their pledge prior to the 2009 elections, the county Conservatives promised a council tax freeze from April 2011 for three years – if their party win the General Election.

They claim if the Tories don’t win the national election, council tax will rise.

A draft budget will be considered by Cabinet on Tuesday and a final decision will be made by the full council on February 24.

Leicester City Council will announce its budget proposals next month.

Labour council leader Councillor Ross Willmott has not confirmed what service cuts will take place.