Jobs axe and cuts unveiled

New chief executive of Blackpool Council, Neil Jack

New chief executive of Blackpool Council, Neil Jack

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TOWN hall chiefs today unveiled savings of £10.6m in next year’s budget – with 75 jobs set to be axed from the council.

The brunt of the savings – £5.8m – will be found in social services with tighter controls on eligibility for adult social care and a review of care packages for people with learning difficulties.

Increased charges will also be introduced for some adult care services.

But £2m is also being slashed from back office costs and almost £1m is being saved by slimming down the senior management structure.

A total revenue budget of £144.2m is being proposed, but council leader Coun Simon Blackburn has pledged to freeze the council tax for the second year and said compulsory redundancies would only be considered as a “last resort”.

Blackpool’s grant from Government has been cut by 6.3 per cent this year to £81m, a reduction of £5.4m.

It follows on from last year’s cuts of £27m which saw 750 jobs lost including around 350 compulsory redundancies.

Coun Blackburn said: “The council needs to save £10.6m from its budget as a result of cuts imposed by central government and financial pressures caused by the rising cost of energy and utility bills, but I am confident we are providing the best revenue budget possible with the resources available.”

He added: “I believe this budget protects funding for tourism, but makes sure community facilities such as libraries and children’s centres are kept open which is very much what our residents have been telling members they want.

“I wanted to keep job losses to a minimum. As one of the area’s largest employers we have already had our fair share of job cuts and although we will lose another 75 or so posts this year, half of those are already vacant.

“I have instructed the chief executive (Neil Jack) only to allow compulsory redundancy as a last resort.”

Other savings include £1.4m from staff agreeing to take four days unpaid leave, while an additional income of £600,000 is expected from increasing fees and charges by 2.5 per cent.

Coun Blackburn added: “It’s a credit to our staff and trade unions. They are once again being asked to make a financial sacrifice by taking four days unpaid leave – which in most instances is equivalent to around a one per cent pay cut.”

Other savings include £528,000 from Neighbourhood Services which includes savings from the upgraded tramway.

Savings of £1.167m in Leisure Services include the merger of Vitaline and CCTV services and the introduction of Saturday cremations.

Almost £1.6m will be saved in regeneration and tourism.

The Hire A Bike scheme will no longer be subsidised, and the events budget will be cut with revenue expected from the private sector to fill the gap.

Further savings include £372,000 from the chief executives department, £791,000 from resources which includes IT, and £88,000 from Democratic Services.

But cash will still be found to support the voluntary sector with £392,000 handed out to local organisations.

Freezing the council tax will mean people living in an average band D property will pay £1,516 a year, before police and fire precepts are added.

The budget proposals will go to the executive on February 8 and to the council’s annual budget meeting on February 24 at the town hall.