600 Sheffield Council jobs may go as new year cuts bite

Sheffield Town Hall
Sheffield Town Hall

UP to 600 jobs could go at Sheffield Council over the next financial year under the latest round of spending cuts.

The authority is making a further £50 million of savings to its £480 million annual budget.

Over the last two years, around 1,400 jobs have already been axed and £130 million saved.

Sheffield Council has submitted its 90-day notice to the Government of the latest redundancies and has set 600 as the maximum number.

But the final figure will not be known until the New Year.

The council had previously said the figure for redundancies in the 2012/13 financial year would be in the ‘high hundreds’.

The job losses will include roles lost through voluntary severance or voluntary early retirement as well as any vacancies that have not been filled.

Julie Toner, director of human resources at Sheffield Council, said: “Our estimate is that up to 600 council jobs could be affected in the budget-setting process and we have now informed the Government of that figure.

“We are not yet in a position to confirm a definite number, as this is obviously dependent on the final budget.

“We will work hard to reduce the figure and wherever possible avoid compulsory redundancies. We appreciate this is a tough time for our staff and we will work with them and the trade unions to lessen the impact wherever we can.”

Sheffield Council says it is facing not only a £50 million funding cut but also £20m of extra pressures such as rising costs of goods and inflation.

As well as redundancy, bosses are also asking staff to consider ways of making savings such as reduced hours, career breaks as well as volunteering for early retirement and severance.

The council has already proposed extending a freeze on incremental pay rises for another year from next April which could save the council around £5m.

Jon Mordecai, local government organiser for trade union Unison, said: “It’s another day of bad news for our members. Many people are now working under extreme pressure.

“For example, in technical services, we have been told that more than one third of the employees could be vulnerable. The council’s ability to create things will disappear.”

But opposition Lib Dem councillors say the scale of cuts could be reduced if the authority scaled back a £2 million refurbishment project at the Town Hall, or cut the amount spent on trade union posts, which cost several hundred thousand pounds a year.

Coun Simon Clement-Jones, Sheffield Council’s Liberal Democrat finance spokesman, said: “Clearly difficult decisions will need to be made.

“However, the council’s job would be a lot easier if Labour councillors were not so stubborn about blowing millions on makeovers for Town Hall meeting rooms and gifting thousands of pounds to their trade union pals.

“Hard-working Sheffielders, like care workers and parks staff, should not be facing redundancy so that Labour councillors can pay for their political pet projects.”

Ruling Labour councillors say the Town Hall refurbishment will save money because it will lessen the need to hire alternative premises, while full-time union officials are needed to undertake statutory duties.