The public spending cuts planned by the coalition government are beginning to affect our region in earnest. Birmingham city council’s budget for 2011-12, due to be announced on Monday, will see thousands of jobs lost in a bid to save a significant proportion of the £300 million which the council, one of the largest public employers in the country with almost 19,000 staff, must cut over the next three to four years
1,500 council employees have so far requested voluntary redundancy ahead of the new proposals. However it is expected that a total of 7,000 jobs will be lost, 2,450 of which will go during the next financial year. Roger McKenzie, assistant general secretary of public service union Unison, described the proposed job losses as “devastating news for the people of Birmingham.”
Defending the proposals, Cllr Mike Whitby, leader of the council, said, “The public sector has to support the government’s commitment to tackle the deficit. I am confident we are putting forward proposals which will deliver the necessary savings as well as prioritising critical frontline services.”
Cllr Whitby added, “Although there will be a focus on reduced spending it is important to remember that £3.5 billion is still to be spent on quality public services by the city council.”
In order to alleviate the worst effects of the cuts for local residents, the city’s council tax will be frozen for the forthcoming financial year, after five years of below average rises.
While cuts are inevitable, the stark figure of so many jobs lost by a Conservative/Liberal Democrat controlled council will undoubtedly be embarrassing for a government already facing widespread criticism for the scale and effect of its imposed public spending cuts.
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