Lancashire

Blackburn council confirms 1,000 job cuts

Blackburn Town Hall
Image caption The cuts will be given the final green light by councillors on Thursday

About 1,000 jobs are to go at Blackburn with Darwen Council after a £25m budget cut was revealed by councillors.

About 500 people are expected to go in the next few months and all vacant posts are being deleted.

The authority also revealed a list of public services and facilities that would be cut in light of its grant settlement from the government.

Councillor Kate Hollern, leader of the Labour-run authority, said all services were "sharing the pain".

The council said it wanted to make necessary savings whilst maintaining statutory services and protecting frontline services.

Its reorganisation of services will reduce the workforce by about a quarter.

"The speed and depth of these cuts mean we are forced to consider reducing, changing or in some cases stopping what council staff provide for the people of our two towns," said Mrs Hollern.

"All service areas are sharing the pain. Back office/support functions were looked at first but even the frontline services we know are so needed can't be fully protected.

"If services go then so do staff but we want to keep redundancies to a minimum.

"We know all too well that adding to our already high unemployment rates will hurt individuals, families and the local economy."

Trade unions have been notified and the council has entered a 90-day consultation process about the job losses.

Unison representative Gareth Roscoe echoed council criticism of the government and said David Cameron's big society plan was unlikely to work in Blackburn.

"It might be true in the leafy suburbs of the south of England that if there are cuts to council budgets that the private and third sector can make it up - but I can't see that happening here," he said.

Among the cuts being made are:

  • Increased charges for burials and cremations
  • Reduction in specialist services for children
  • Closure of four bowling greens and 20 play areas
  • Subsidy withdrawn and reduced from 16 bus services
  • Closure of three of five adult day care centres
  • Reduction in early intervention services including domestic abuse, drugs and alcohol
  • Cuts of at least 35% to finance, legal, human resources, IT, policy and communications and property services

The authority previously warned that up to 1,700 jobs could be cut, but the figures have been revised in the final plans.

'Fair settlement'

In a statement, a Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman described the council's grant settlement as "tough but fair".

"The settlement is fair between different parts of the country - north and south, rural and urban, metropolitan and shire," he said.

"In calculating the settlement ministers have ensured that formula grant funding per head is higher in those parts of the country with the highest level of need - such as Blackburn with Darwen.

"In 2011-12 Blackburn with Darwen will still receive a central government grant of £610 per head, compared for example to £125 per head in Wokingham."

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