Black country

Sandwell Council to shed 520 jobs to cope with cuts

Sandwell Council has approved a budget that will see 520 jobs lost.

At a meeting on Tuesday councillors also agreed to no increase in council tax for residents next year.

The council tax freeze for the new financial year is part of a budget aimed at coping with a £30m cut in government funding for the borough.

The budget passed involves spending about £291m in 2011-12 instead of about £322m in the current 2010-11 financial year.

Councillor Steve Eling, deputy leader and cabinet member for strategic resources, told the full council meeting it had been a "real uphill struggle" to set this year's budget in light of the government's spending cuts.

He said: "This is the most difficult budget that this council has had to set in many a long year and outside the experience of most of the people who are sitting in this council chamber."

Recycling expanded

He added the council had "tried hard" in its commitment to protect "basic, front-line services" although he added the scale of cuts meant some would have to be run "on a shoestring".

The Labour-run council agreed to cuts of roughly £10m each in adult and community services and children and families, £6.5m in urban regeneration and £4.5m in corporate services.

But a council spokesman said despite the cuts no libraries or community facilities faced closure, the council will carry on investing in public parks and refuse collection and street cleaning will be protected, with an expansion of recycling.

He added spending on roads maintenance will be held at a level that will keep them in a "decent state" of repair and funding will continue for work to tackle anti-social behaviour and support local businesses.

The council's main programme grant budget that provides support to the voluntary sector will be protected with a 2.5% increase to cover inflation costs.

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