Job cuts will change face of Lancashire County Council

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Lancashire County Council is set to cut 2,500 jobs by April 2016 in a move councillors admit will change the face of the authority.

The council, which expects to have to save around £300m from its annual budget in the next four years, said it was striving to avoid making compulsory redundancies.

However, a proposal going to its cabinet next Friday will see workers encouraged to apply for voluntary redundancy.

Council leader Jennifer Mein said: “This is the harsh reality of cuts being imposed by Government, as we seek to find £300m savings on top of the £220m the council has saved over the last three years.

“The council simply cannot make these savings without significant reductions both in the services it provides to local communities and in the number of people it employs to deliver those services.

“These are decisions we would rather not have to make, but I am determined to lead the council through this period in a way that makes the changes as fair as possible to the public and employees alike.”

The council employs around 34,500 people, however, with the majority of those jobs funded through a ring-fenced schools budget, the cuts affect its non-schools workforce of around 13,000.

It is hoped the reshaping will allow the council to operate with a considerably smaller budget by April 2016.

The move takes account of the existing budget proposals for 2014-15 and the impact on staffing levels of the further funding cuts expected in 2015-18, the details of which will form a three-year budget strategy to be agreed next year.

Deputy leader and portfolio holder for finance, County Coun David Borrow, said: “We’re currently consulting over our budget plan for 2014-15 and will spend much of the next 12 months having a transparent discussion about how services will change in the three years that follow.

“But we already know enough about the Government’s spending plans to realise it will have a big impact on the number of people we can employ.

“We’re being open, honest and proactive in our approach by explaining these changes to our employees and proposing terms for voluntary redundancy that the council can afford during what will be an incredibly challenging period.

“Our priorities will remain to protect vulnerable people and promote economic growth, but there is no doubt this will be a very different and much smaller organisation in a few years’ time.”

Councillors will be asked to agree to set the terms for voluntary redundancy at reduced levels for future years, in order that the council can afford for sufficient numbers of people to leave on a voluntary basis.

Employees will be able to apply to leave on the current terms for voluntary redundancy up until the end of March this year.

The council said the need to save £300m over the four years from 2014 to 2018 reflected big cuts in funding from the Government, together with the need to offset inflation and account for increased demand from an ageing population.

The savings equate to around 40 per cent of the council’s current non-schools budget.