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No need for job losses, says Cumbria council leader

Cumbria County Council leader Eddie Martin believes there will be no need for compulsory redundancies within the authority in the coming months.

Eddie Martin photo
Eddie Martin

Mr Martin said this is because they had been so successful in asking for voluntary redundancies in the past as the council is forced to make massive spending cuts.

The news comes in the wake of county councillors approving the budget for the next financial year, which made allowance for a one per cent pay rise for council staff. That budget includes making £24.5m of savings in the coming financial year.

Mr Martin said that out of the 720 workers who had left the authority in recent years, only 56 had been through compulsory redundancies.

Mr Martin said that if redundancies needed to be made, they were more likely to be in ‘back room’ posts rather than in frontline services.

Mr Martin said that the authority had recently taken highways back under council control, an operation which was previously carried out by private contractor Amey.

The move was likely to be completed by June.

He added: “We are protecting highways. It shouldn’t take that long to get a pothole filled once we are up and running.”

Mr Martin said that once the Highways Department had been fully restructured, teams of two workers would take responsibility for specific areas of the county – with a number of teams overseen by an inspector.

He said that they would act immediately if they spotted problems with the road surface of their patch, but he added: “If it’s a bigger job they will have to call in reinforcements.”

The council has recently spent £7m on road maintenance equipment and vehicles to enable highways staff to carry out their duties.

Staff are responsible for a road network measuring 7,500km – with another 7,500km of rights of way – across the county.

Mr Martin added that his priorities were the vulnerable in society.

“Children have got to be our number one priority – closely followed by the care of our elderly, vulnerable and disabled,” he said.

Savings in the next year include efficiencies made in various departments, as well as the following:

  • Introducing electronic recording for the delivery of home care to make the system more efficient and ensure the council only pays for services being delivered;
  • Implementation of pre-paid cards for the delivery of personal budgets, direct payments and carers’ cash payments;
  • Use of NHS Health to Social Care funding, in agreement with the Clinical Commissioning group, to support social care expenditure in areas identified in the grant funding;
  • Changes to funding of local committees;
  • Reduction in funding for careers advice services for some young people as the responsibility has moved from local authorities to schools.

Council deputy leader Stewart Young said: “The future holds a great deal of uncertainty, but what is certain is that more savings will need to be made and difficult decisions will need to be made.

“We estimate that in 2014/15 and 2015/16 the council will have to find additional savings worth in the region of £50m, but this could be even higher if we see business rate income falling and the number of council tax support claimants rising,” added Mr Young.

“The scale of reform will have profound effects on the way local authorities operate in the future.”

Have your say

"Anon" who apparently worked for the Council, doesnt even know who has controlled the council for the past 4 years! It is still a Tory controlled council, they have 6 out of 10 seats on the Cabinet

Posted by John on 25 February 2013 at 15:06

Correction - it's a Tory/Labour coalition but nevertheless, Cabinet is dominated by the Tories and there is a Tory leader so hardly a Labour council.

Posted by ELM on 21 February 2013 at 10:20

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