Hampshire County Council today announced that 1200 jobs will be lost as it struggles to deal with a £30.9 million slash to its funding. This represents 8% of its total workforce.
The council plans to make savings of £55m in 2011/12, and has also announced a pay freeze affecting all staff who keep their jobs. Every department will be affected by the cuts, with the exception of education, child protection and road repair.
Council leader Ken Thornber defended the plans stating that “We recognise that this level of change is unsettling and that it would be unsustainable over a long period.
“Therefore the council is keen to make the savings it needs to meet the total grant reductions it faces in two years rather than four.”
This somewhat questionable logic failed to impress public sector union, Unison, who called the cuts “unnecessary” and “devastating”.
Southampton City Council has also been hit by the spending cuts, predicting in November that 250 jobs will be lost this year and announcing a 5.4% pay cut for all staff.
Community groups and unions have vowed to defend local services, and have planned a rally and demonstration on February 5th, beginning at 12pm outside the Guildhall. The demonstration notes the need to bring together all those opposed to cuts- students, parents, trade unions and workers- in order to build effective opposition in the city.
The job losses in Hampshire are a result of Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickle’s plans to cut a total of £1.1 bn from local authority budgets. These plans have sparked controversy, both because of the size of the cuts and because they appear to hit poorer communities harder. While local councils in some affluent areas such as Tunbridge Wells and West Oxfordshire will see their budgets increase by a third, poorer areas such as Liverpool, Hull and Wolverhampton will see their budgets decrease by the same proportion over the same period.