Swansea job cuts ‘inevitable’ to help save council £15m

MAJOR job cuts are inevitable at Swansea Council as the authority seeks to save £15 million, its leader has said.

Service cuts are also on the cards as the council works out its next budget.

While no details of exactly where the axe will fall have been revealed, Councillor Chris Holley has issued a statement denying claims that he has been scaremongering over the severe position the authority finds itself in.

However, despite a claim that unions had been consulted, a Unison spokesman said no contact had been made.

Councillor Holley said: “This is the most difficult budget this council has ever faced. All councils are in the same boat due to the squeeze on public finances and the impact of the recession.

“I am not scaremongering. I am trying to prepare the people of Swansea for the inevitable cuts that will be coming.

“It goes without saying that you can’t reduce spending by £15 million and still carry on as before.

“It is going to be tough for council staff, some of whom will lose their jobs, and it will be tough for residents who will see some services cut altogether and significant changes to other services.”

Although the council leader would not be drawn on the number of job cuts being considered, he said, “it is a considerable amount.”

The council’s ruling cabinet is currently considering options to achieve budget savings of around £15million during 2010/11.

This comes after Swansea had to shore up a £14 million black hole in last year’s budget — which culminated in the news that 500 jobs would go over three years. To date around 130 of these have gone, almost exclusively through natural wastage

However, it looks like the next budget will see many more local authority jobs go.

According to Swansea Council, it finds itself in this difficult position because of what it describes as “a tough budget settlement from the Assembly” — an increase of 1.9 per cent — along with unavoidable spending increases in areas such as social services and reduced income in areas including car parks and rents during the ongoing recession.

Councillor Holley said the council’s priority would be to protect frontline services.

“Trade unions have been working with us for many months now, since we all face this position with the same objectives in mind. In order to avoid compulsory redundancies as much as possible, we have sought to freeze vacancies where possible,” he added.

However, Mike Davies from the Swansea branch of Unison, said the union had not been contacted by the council, and added that Unison was now “urgently” seeking talks.