Council axes 200 jobs in its budget

ROTHERHAM Council has revealed that 200 jobs are to go at the authority this year as it tries to make £20million of savings.

But council tax will be frozen for the second year running as the council tries to avoid imposing ‘extra pressure’ on residents.

Council leader Roger Stone revealed the figures and the £213.29million budget on Wednesday after they were approved by the cabinet.

He said it was hoped many of the jobs would be lost through voluntary redundancies, but couldn’t rule out the possibility of compulsory redundancies.

“We’ve tried not to affect frontline services,” said Coun Stone. “We have balanced the budget with the least amount of pain to our frontline services which means there is a lot of the back office that has been reduced.”

“There will probably be 200 jobs loses that will take place but hopefully the job losses will be through voluntary redundancies.”

Almost £9.8million worth of savings will be made across service areas, while £2million will be saved with the job losses.

Coun Stone said that £800,000 will be saved by freezing staff increments, but stressed that the 1.15 per cent pay reduction implemented last year would be reinstated.

Coun Stone also thanked the staff for the way they have worked with them as they went through the budget process.

Chief executive Martin Kimber said the council would continue to protect its most vulnerable adults and children while making sure frontline services are protected.

But he admitted: “It’s almost inevitable that when we are taking the type of money out of the system that we are having to take out in Rotherham that there will be impacts.”

He said that in 2009 the council was spending £1,000 per resident on council services, but now this amount will be just under £800.

Deputy leader Coun Jahangir Akhtar said the process had been ‘extremely hard’ and probably ‘one of the toughest he had made on the council.’

He said that although the council was being forced to make cuts, the cabinet had agreed £60million of investments over the next three years.

“There is still a great deal the council can do on our constraints,” he added.

Referring to the council tax freeze he said the council was ‘striking a balance’ between tackling the problems now and buying some time.’ Rotherham Council will receive a grant of around £2.33million from the Government for freezing council tax.

Coun Akhtar said: “It’s about striking a balance and that’s good financial management and good planning for the local economy and good for employment prospects.”

The council denied that by freezing council tax this year, residents would face paying a huge increase next year.

Coun Akhtar said: “We’re not putting extra pressure on our residents. They have enough on their plates.”

“Next year we are confident that any impact on taking this freeze we will be able to mitigate that.”

“The people of Rotherham will not have to pay extra because we have taken the freeze.”

As well as having to find savings of £20 million this year, the council is faced with finding a further £12 million in 2013/14. The budget will be put before the full council for approval on 7th March.