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Hundreds Of Jobs To Go At Cornwall Council
6:51am 2nd September 2014
(Updated 6:51am 2nd September 2014)
Hundreds of staff at Cornwall Council are told their jobs could go.
Officials say they have got to save around a third of their budget - approximately £200m pounds over the next four years.
In some departments it will mean half of posts could be cut.
Some staff will be offered early retirement - others could be passed onto new organisations.
Chief Executive Andrew Kerr told Pirate FM: "There will be redundancies. We always try to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies we make but, undoubtedly, we will be forced to make some difficult decisions in the next few months which mean that staff have to leave the organisation when they would wish to stay.
"We are one of the largest employers of course and we are trying to maximise the number of staff that can leave through retirement or voluntary means rather than saying, 'Sorry, we no longer need you' because actually we need lots of them to do good things like they've already been doing."
Officials say the cuts will be "frontloaded", with £68m of the £196m savings needed made in the first year (2015).
They insist they will work with staff to reduce the pay bill through restructuring and transferring staff to arms' length companies.
Some of the details coming out of the budget meeting at County Hall are:
Private companies will be asked to help with parking patrols, Visit Cornwall and services to schools.
Libraries could be run by volunteers and/or town and parish councils. Cornwall Council says it wants to ensure none are closed.
We are being told services for the most vulnerable, public transport and road repairs and maintenance will be protected, but will not escape the cuts.
Some of them have already suffered, with two respite centres for children closing on Friday and cuts to bus routes already being implemented.
The pain does not stop there, however, with a rise in Council Tax on the cards over the coming years.
That is expected to be around 1.97%, just below the 2% level where an automatic referendum would be triggered.
Officials have told Pirate FM they do not believe that they could win a vote on the proposals and that a referendum would be the wrong way to go.
The real rise in our bills is likely to be bigger, however, as town and parish councils increase their own precepts in order to pay for the extra services they will now be asked to provide.
Alex Folkes, the Council's Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said "Over the past few months we have looked closely at everything we do to see how we can protect services by becoming more efficient and changing the way the Council is run. We started with the money we spend on ourselves and have already identified more than £30 million of savings through a radical restructure of senior management, reducing the use of consultants and agency staff by 59%, and a local pay agreement with staff. This work is continuing, with further savings due to come from ongoing restructuring and the sale of surplus buildings, but the sheer scale of the savings we need to make means we cannot rely on these actions alone. "
"We are looking to work much more closely with the rest of the public sector and the voluntary and community sector. We will be seeking to integrate our services and to share support functions and buildings wherever possible. But we know that front line services will also be hit and so we have worked with elected members, with partners and with the public to understand where they feel savings can be made and which services should be protected."
"The draft budget proposals include some things which we would want to do regardless of the need to make savings. These include further reducing the number of buildings and working more closely with partners to share costs. Others are savings we would prefer not to have to make and which we know will have a significant impact on the people who use these services. But, faced with the need to save £196m from our budget, we have very little choice.
"However even implementing all these proposals will still leave us with a £6 million shortfall and this figure could rise depending on Government funding decisions. We have already ruled out a number of options as unacceptable in the current circumstances and, rather than have to revisit them in the future, are asking people to come forward with any ideas on areas for savings we might have missed or where we could go further than we are currently suggesting."
The budget plans are being laid out after Pirate FM revealed leisure centres and swimming pools could be forced to close after 2017 in a bid to save money.
Stuart Cullimore is from Cornwall Anti Cuts Alliance.
He is not impressed with a consultation on that: "Quite frankly I think it's a way to massage the result because the stakeholders are not likely to give you the same result as the general public. The general public are the biggest stakeholders and quite frankly, this type of consultation treats them as second class citizens.
"It is very important that they have leisure centres. They're an important source of recreation and considering how much we're being told to improve our health through exercise these days, it's absolutely disgraceful that any of them are being considered for closure."
Final decisions are not due to be made until November, with a decision on council tax not due until early in the new year.
A series of public meetings will be held over the next couple of months. You can find the details below.
Three Things To Do If You're Worried About Losing Your Job
Check your contract Redundancy details may be in your contract or your employer may have a procedure. Generally redundancy schemes are more generous than those required by law.If you have at least two years' continuous service then you will be entitled to redundancy pay. This will be calculated using your age, years of service and average pay. Redundancy pay is not available if you are over sixty-five or the normal retirement age. It is best to double check with the Citizens Advice Bureau or similar before accepting any terms being offered.
Start Networking If you have worked for the company for two years continuously you will be allowed to have reasonable time off to look for another job or for training. But exactly how much time will have to be worked out with your employer. If they feel you are abusing this they can stop paying you. Start speaking to friends and family about opportunities that they hear about.
Brush up your CV and references Start work on overhauling your CV and references now. Make sure it includes everything you did at your latest position. If you are being laid off with immediate effect ask your boss to write you your reference then and there. Do not allow yourself to be fobbed off with a promise that it will be sent on. If they write it for you on your last day you are more likely to win sympathy and get a glowing report.
6:51am 2nd September 2014
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