MORE than 1,000 jobs have been axed by Cheshire West and Chester Council to avoid the possibility of potentially large hikes in council tax in the future.
A full meeting of the Tory controlled council last night (Wednesday, September 23) was due to hear the outcome of a major review designed to slash costs while improving front-line services.
The council said that, since it took over on April 1, it has carried out a comprehensive reassessment of all its activities ‘to create an organisation capable of delivering quality services against a background of financial restraint’.
The authority argues that restructuring will also allow for impending significant cuts in public expenditure, estimated at 10% and the need to keep council tax rises below inflation.
Finance director Julie Gill was to reveal in a report that 466 staff have been granted voluntary redundancy and will leave the authority by the end of this month.
Latest figures show the number of jobs which have been removed from the payroll since local government reorganisation on April 1 total just over 1,000–- including 320 vacancies which were not filled.
The voluntary redundancies will cost the council an estimated £19m - to be paid for with the help of £5.5m taken from the council’s kitty.
But the cash will be recovered and reserves repaid within 18 months leading to annual savings of £13.5m a year, it is claimed.
“A strong business case had to be presented to justify every redundancy,” insists Cllr Les Ford (Con, Frodsham and Helsby), finance executive member.
The report shows that 1,167 staff jumped at the chance to go but 672 were told to stay on to protect front-line services.