St Albans council jobs face the axe

REDUNDANCIES look to be inevitable at the district council as it faces a huge cut in government grant next year.

Chief executive Daniel Goodwin has warned staff that not only is the Government considering a reduction of between 25 and 40 per cent in the next three years in the money it gives to local authorities but there will be financial shortfalls arising from inflation and pension fund costs.

As the largest sum in the council’s budget is staffing, he is looking to redesign the organisational structure at senior and middle management level which will then trickle down to the rest of the council staff.

Mr Goodwin has warned that the council will have to become a smaller organisation with a new structure and there are likely to be redundancies. He has ruled out requests for voluntary redundancy or early retirement with the emphasis on appointments being competency based.

St Albans council’s cabinet was told earlier this month that an action plan to identify savings and efficiencies was being drawn up to offset the reduction in central government funding which is expected to be announced next month.

The council could be left with a budget gap of between �1.8 million and �2.2 million in 2010/11 which would increase to between �5.7 million and �6.8 million in 2014/15 if no savings were made.

Cllr Roger Axworthy, the portfolio holder for resources and efficiencies, told cabinet that the council had already experienced some reduction in its funding for 2010/11 as a result of government decisions and had managed through swift action to identify savings to cover the loss without having to amend its budget.

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He went on: “However, a 25 per cent to 40 per cent reduction in the council’s annual grant will potentially have a significant impact. To help offset this for residents, the council has already begun a root and branch review of services to identify where much-needed efficiencies can be made.”

Council leader, Cllr Robert Donald, pledged that the cabinet would seek to safeguard the quality of services for all residents and ensure continuing support for the most vulnerable. He said he had also initiated discussions with the council’s partners through the Local Strategic Partnership to see how services could be delivered in the community in a more efficient way.