Job cuts in county council workforce top 1,300 mark

Darlington and Stockton Times: SETTING PRIORITIES: North Yorkshire County Council leader John Weighell SETTING PRIORITIES: North Yorkshire County Council leader John Weighell

MORE than 1,300 jobs have been lost at North Yorkshire County Council in the past three years following cuts imposed by the Government – and there are more to come.

The Tory leader of the authority, Coun John Weighell from Bedale, said there had to be a rebalancing in the cost of local government and the public could not afford to pay more and more council tax.

Since April 2010, the authority’s full-time equivalent posts have been cut from 15,103 to 13,737 by the end of last year.

Of those, 200 were compulsory redundancies while other staff have taken voluntary redundancy or been redeployed and retrained in vacant roles.

More than ten per cent of administrative posts have gone and 13 per cent of managers, with just under three per cent of frontline jobs. Teaching posts are protected, and the county council also has little control over the education budget.

The authority will have cut £54m by April and has another £24m to save over the next two years with more job losses on the cards.

Coun Weighell said “There are two sides to this. I came on the council to deliver better services and I think we achieved that very well when there was more money around – but if the money isn’t there, we can’t remain at that level of establishment.

“The other side is the public of North Yorkshire. In my view, they can’t afford to pay more and more council tax even if we were allowed to charge it. People don’t like paying more council tax – it is one of the things they dislike paying most.

“We are trying not to make any cuts at all in care of the elderly and safeguarding children but some of the services people like to have but are less critical, they are the ones that have taken some of these cuts.

The main part is there is a human cost with 200 compulsory redundancies.” “We think we will get by over the next financial year, but after that we have no real financial figures.

Two years on from now, if the austerity programme continues, it would be a very difficult situation.

“And there will be further job losses but obviously that will be in a planned way. To reduce budgets gets harder and harder and it would be wrong of me to say there will not be cutbacks in services.

“It is a great challenge, but the expansion of the cost of local government over the first decade of this century was at a level that was not sustainable and there had to be some rebalancing, and we are being asked to do less things.”

He said they had tried to limit the impact on both taxpayers and staff.

“One of the on-going problems of all of this is the lack of opportunities for young people coming into local government.

“We are having to fill the posts that become vacant by retraining existing staff rather than recruit people from school or new graduates.

“That is a sad thing to have to do, not to be bringing young people into the workforce.”

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