Liverpool

Wirral Council approves 1,100 job cuts

Wirral Council is to cut 1,100 jobs within the next four months after a budget cut of £40m.

The redundancies - which the council said would be voluntary - were approved on Monday night as part of the borough's 2011-12 budget.

But the Tory-Lib Dem council said extra money would be invested in Sure Start and library services - which last year were threatened with closure.

About 6,000 people - excluding those in education - work for the authority.

The authority also imposed a freeze on council tax and council leader Jeff Green said they had protected important services.

"Over the last 10 months, we have worked hard to reduce the amount of money we spend on the council's running costs," he said.

"Through the savings we have implemented, not least the reduction in senior management costs, we are able to protect services that other councils have chosen to cut, while putting extra cash into the services that people have told us are important."

The council, which has seen its government grant cut by £14m, had a budget of £331m for 2010-11. The budget for 2011-12 was set at £291m.

Mr Green said that councillors had identified further saving measures for future budgets.

"Thanks to good financial management, we have identified almost £60m worth of savings, which has meant that we don't need to pass the burden on to Wirral residents by imposing a council tax increase or cutting really important services that we all depend on," he added.

'Smoke and mirrors'

But councillor Steve Foulkes, leader of the Labour group, said the budget was "full of smoke and mirrors" and argued many of those leaving the authority had felt pressured.

"The £10.7m strategic change programme - what does that mean to Joe Public? Aboslutely nothing," said Mr Foulkes.

"Hidden inside that are £7m worth of cuts to social services who look after the vulnerable.

"They [staff] were sent an email. It basically said: 'If you don't take voluntary redundancy you may get made compulsorily redundant and, by the way, people who go in the future will go on even less money than they are now'.

"These people have gone under stress."

The council began asking staff to volunteer for redundancy last year and some staff began leaving in December. All the posts are expected to go by June.

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