A voluntary redundancy scheme at Wolverhampton Council is to be extended for another year as bosses look to get rid of more workers in the latest wave of budget cuts.
Since November 2010, 635 people have been made redundant from the authority, including 450 workers who departed under the voluntary redundancy scheme.
However, after approving plans this week to cut almost £60 million over the next five years, it is feared that hundreds more posts could go.
New figures set to go before a meeting of the council’s cabinet resource panel next Tuesday have revealed that 130 workers have taken voluntary redundancy in the current financial year, leading to redundancy payouts of £1.1m.
Since the scheme was launched in 2010, £7m has been paid out to those who have left their roles. It was extended in December 2011 and then again in July 2012 and is currently scheduled to run until June 30, 2013.
But at Tuesday’s meeting, councillors will be asked to extend the scheme until the same date in 2014. Bosses want to avoid having to make compulsory redundancies as the council does not want to force people out of work.
A report set to go before the committee states: “There is a requirement for further savings to be realised as part of the city council’s ongoing savings programme and therefore it is important that the council retains a mechanism for mitigating against compulsory redundancies.
“Consequently it is proposed that the terms of the scheme originally approved on November 1, 2010 continue to operate until June 30, 2014.”
Trade union officials are being informed about the move but they have previously agreed to the scheme being extended. The council will begin cutting £17m from next month. Nine of the city’s 17 children’s centres are to close but the council has yet to identify where the axe will fall.
Respite care beds and day services will also be moved out of Warstones Resource Centre, despite a 6,500-signature petition, but a consultation still has to take place on whether or not to turn the building into a “community hub” and provide a new home for Warstones Library. The council is assuming savings of £1.15m over two years.
Funding will also be removed for children to learn Urdu, Punjabi and other mother tongue languages at weekends while plans have been forwarded to cut the number of garden waste collections.
Despite the cuts council bosses have agreed to freeze council tax for the fourth year running. The council is accepting a government grant worth the equivalent of a one per cent rise in council tax to freeze the rates.
The council could have raised a further £300,000 by increasing rates by two per cent, the maximum allowed without giving residents a referendum, but doing so would have thrown away the Government’s grant. The decision means the authority’s share of council tax for the coming year remains at £877.81 for a Band A property, £1,024.12 for Band B, £1,170.42 for Band C and £1,316.72 for Band D.
Precepts for West Midlands Fire Service, West Midlands Police and Centro, which are collected with council tax, could go up.