250 Jobs Axed At Southampton City Council

Up to 250 jobs are going at Southampton City Council - which has announced plans to save £62 million over the next four years.

The proposals will see core services protected with other services reduced or stopped.

Up to 250 council jobs will go in 2011/12 with further reductions possible in future years.  

Staff terms and conditions are also likely to be changed.  Every member of staff, from the Chief Executive down, will receive 5.4% less pay from 1st April 2011.  Councillors' allowances will be reduced by the same amount.

The council says the move is designed to protect services by avoiding significantly more redundancies,

As a result of the recent national Comprehensive Spending Review, it says it's expected to lose more than one quarter of its Government funding over the next four years.  The council is heavily reliant on this funding, with more than seven pounds in every ten spent by the council coming from Government grants.

Councillor Royston Smith, Leader of Southampton City Council, said: 

"Our savings proposals represent months of planning.  We knew the spending review was coming, we knew it was going to be tough and we planned for it to be tough.

"In common with councils across the country, we simply can't do everything we have done in the past.  Some services will be reduced and some will go altogether.  We will have to make difficult decisions and we will have to focus on services that are valued most by residents and businesses.

"Our focus will be on protecting services that support the economic development of Southampton, creating new jobs for local people.  We will support the continued improvement in our schools, ensuring young people have the qualifications and skills to take advantage of new opportunities.  And we will ensure the most vulnerable are looked after."

Extra investment will be made in road and pavement repairs and in the care of vulnerable children.

The proposals to change staff terms and conditions include:
-a package of measures to reduce Chief Officer pay by on average 5.4%, which will include:
-reverse increment for all Chief Officers.(i.e a salary reduction of one spinal column point)
-introduction of additional 5 days unpaid leave entitlement for all Chief Officers. The additional days will be deducted from salary and equate to a 2.3% reduction in working time across the year
-1% additional pay cut across all pay bands for all Chief Officers

- reduction in paid working hours of 2 hours per week (pro rata for part time employees) for all employees below Chief Officer grade. This will equate to an on average pay reduction of 5.4% in return for working 5.4% less hours e.g. from 37 hours to 35 or from 39 hours to 37
- no pay increments for all employees for two years (2011/12 and 2012/13);
- no cost of living pay award for two years
- remove payment (other than any statutory entitlement) for uncertificated sickness after the first three days during any rolling year; 
- restructure essential and contractual car user entitlements;
- reduce mileage rates to government approved rate of 40p per mile;
- removal of all market supplements
- removal of the leased car scheme

Cllr Smith continued: 

"I recognise that our savings proposals will have a direct impact on council staff.  Up to 250 posts will go in the first year.  Redundancy is awful for those staff involved and I am sorry for this.

"In addition, every single member of staff, including the Chief Executive and senior managers, will be affected by changes to terms and conditions.  It should be recognised that reduced working hours, stopping the payment of incremental salary increases and reducing mileage rates have all been suggested by council staff as part of our ongoing budget consultation.

"The proposed changes to terms and conditions will allow us to save some £8.6 million next year and £12 million in 2012/13. 

"If we were not to introduce these changes we would risk losing at least a further 400 jobs in that period.  By protecting frontline jobs we protect public services."

The precise details of the funding settlement for Southampton City Council from central Government will not be known until December.  The savings proposals are based on the headline figures released by Government so far.

The council provided details of the savings proposals to staff and unions today (Thursday 11 November) at the start of a statutory 90 day consultation period. It also says options to reduce costs by working more closely with neighbouring councils and other partners are being actively explored.

Cllr Smith concluded: 

"In all of this, we must not lose sight of the fact that, even after these significant reductions, Southampton City Council will still deliver hundreds of services that benefit residents and businesses in the city.  We will still be spending hundreds of millions directly into Southampton's economy.  Despite the recession Southampton has continued to develop and I am confident that with the right focus the city council will continue to lead our city in the right direction."

These are the initial proposals of the Council's Executive. The Executive will finalise and formally recommend to Full Council their final budget proposals at a meeting in February.  They will then be considered by the Full Council at the budget meeting along with any other proposals, when the Full Council will make its decision and set the Council's budget and the Council Tax.