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Axe set to fall on more than 100 Bolton Council jobs in £30m cuts

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
The jobs of at least 124 council workers are under threat as bosses at Bolton town hall bid to find £31.5 million of savings over the next two financial years.

Consultation over redundancies with staff and their unions are set to begin after December 3 at a cabinet meeting of Labour-controlled Bolton Council.



The proposals are likely also likely to mean an increase in the cost to families of school meals, although free school meals for eligible children are being safeguarded.

Other measures include handing the town’s 28 bowling greens – and with it the responsibility and cost for their maintenance - over to users.

A report to councillors will also recommend a 2.5 per cent increase in council tax, made up of a 1 per cent adult social care levy and a 1.5 per cent general levy.

However, council tax bills may rise still further as those figures do not take into account the Greater Manchester Mayoral additional precept for funding of the police and fire service, yet to be announced.

The council will use £8 million from its reserves to balance the books for its 2019-21 budget meaning its departments must find further savings totalling £23.5 million.

A further £8 million will be used from reserves to allow savings to be phased over the two-year period.

The blow comes at the end of an eight-year period in which the Bolton authority has lost £107 million of government grants which have come at a time when an extra £44 million was needed to meet increasing demand of services like adult social care.

Since 2011/12, the town hall has delivered £155 million of cuts, while generating an income of just £30 million through business rates and household rates.

It costs a total of £414 million a year to run Bolton Council, but £187 million of that comes from the Direct Schools Grant, which means the authority has a net budget of £250 million.

The cuts so far represent a 49 per cent reduction in cash available to fund council services, according to borough treasurer Sue Johnson.

Council leader Linda Thomas said the council, which currently employs just above 4,000 people, has shed 1,721 jobs since 2011, but with no compulsory redundancies.

She said consultation on the latest job cuts starts on December 3, assuming the cabinet agrees to the proposals, and will end on January 14. This will involve staff, the public, trade unions, partner organisations, businesses and other stakeholders, Cllr Thomas said.

A final report taking on board consultation feedback will go to the cabinet on February 11, 2019 and to the full council on February 20.

Cllr Thomas told The Bolton News: “Even though we’ve had a lot of cuts, we feel we’ve managed the situation quite well. We believe we are doing a good job, as a corporate peer review carried out by council leaders across the country has found.

“Our view is that government austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity.

“If the government wanted to fund our services, they would. We believe it is a politically motivated strategy to shrink the state, and that’s exactly what they are doing, because they can.

“These are issues that are fundamental to people’s lives. People talk a lot about potholes and bad roads, and yes, it’s important to have a nice environment.

“But we have many children and old people that need our support and care, and we have found we need the wisdom of Solomon.”

WHAT IS BEING CUT?

The draft budget proposal includes a number of options.

Here are some of the ways the council is hoping to save cash...

- Council will review all 28 bowling greens and their usage and will use Community Asset Transfer powers, where appropriate, to deliver greenspace functions through a new partnership approach with local

communities. Potential savings of £135,000.

- Reduce the standard of the winter gritting service to match the levels provided by other GM authorities in a bid to save £100,000.

- A review of staffing, specific provision and fees & charges at the Museum, Library and Archive service meets customer needs. Potential savings of £430,000.

- Review all of the contracts within the People Department to save £1.2m.

- Review of the Community Meals Service to save £250,000.

Source

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