Tyne & Wear

Gateshead Council predicts 600 job losses

Gateshead Civic centre
Image caption Gateshead Council employs about 9,000 staff

Gateshead Council is to axe 600 jobs as it battles to save about £70m over the next three years.

The Labour-controlled authority, which employs 9,000 staff, said it was seeking volunteers for redundancy.

The council described proposed cuts in government grants as "unfair" and predicted service cuts would hit poorer neighbourhoods the most.

Council leader Mick Henry said savings of at least £25m would have to be found in the next year alone.

Mr Henry, said: "Gateshead Council needs to cut at least £25m from its budget in the next financial year and is drawing up possible savings that reduce jobs by about 600.

"We think this will have an unfair impact on the most deprived communities in Gateshead, particularly with the withdrawal of funding that has helped us to tackle challenges in poorer neighbourhoods.

"We have tried to plan for the changes and a recruitment freeze has already enabled us to delete more than 130 posts without people losing jobs.

"However, the scale of these cuts mean that these initiatives alone are not enough to meet the reduction now required."

Staff are also being offered the opportunity to reduce their hours and other flexible working arrangements to generate further savings.

A series of public meetings are to be held where the scale of the proposed cuts will be spelt out.

Unions are also being consulted.

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