UNION chiefs have branded news of up to 200 redundancies at Worcestershire County Council a ‘sign of panic’ as the cash-strapped council looks to balance its budget.
County Hall chiefs admitted voluntary redundancies among the 2,800 strong workforce were being sought by the council as part of its bid to close an immediate black hole in its finances.
The news comes less than a month after the council admitted it was facing a £17.9million overall funding gap with some £15.6million of the overspend due to the pressures on adult social care across the county.
Unison’s Worcestershire secretary Jim Price said: “The council might be saying they are saving frontline services but it means a lot of office staff and a lot of the back office functions will just stop.
“That means areas such as quality control and health and safety will suffer.”
Council chiefs have asked staff who wish to be considered for redundancy to apply before November 12 and those accepted into the scheme will leave County Hall by the end of March.
A council spokesperson said: “A number of roles are exempt, including children’s social workers. It is expected up to 200 full time equivalent staff will leave the council as part of the scheme, which we have discussed with our recognised trade unions.”
Cost saving measures, including tighter recruitment controls, a review of all non-contracted spending, management of long term borrowing and spreading the cost of highways had reduced the projected overspend by more than £12.5million but more cutbacks are now needed.
Council bosses have already launched a 90 day consultation into the future of the county’s libraries following the green light by members of the cabinet earlier this month in a bid to cut an estimated £1million from its annual budget.