Two thousand jobs will go at Wolverhampton City Council – double the number originally thought and a third of the workforce – as huge crippling cuts were outlined today.
Staff were summoned to the Civic Hall where they were given the bombshell that even more of their jobs were facing the axe than they first thought.
The devastating cuts come following warnings last month that without them the authority would go insolvent in a year and would not even be able to empty the bins.
Council bosses, including Labour leader Councillor Roger Lawrence, spelt out the severity of the cuts and revealed new savings, including:
- Cameras to enforce bus lanes, with fines being used to boost council coffers.
- Businesses will be forced to pay if they want graffiti removed.
- A reduction in budget for outdoor events.
- All annual pay rises for staff to be frozen.
- No sick pay for staff for their first day off work
- Full-time contracts for staff will be reduced from 37 hours a week to 35.
- Council tax will rise by just under two per cent – the first increase since 2009.
It comes after the authority revealed in October last year that 1,000 jobs were under threat. That figure rose to 1,400 in December before jumping again today to 2,000.
The council says it has been forced to make sweeping cuts as it has lost £147 million worth of central government funding.
Plans were also confirmed today to increase the price of school meals by 8p, although schools will decide whether or not to pass that cost on to parents. The council recommends they charge £2.10 in most schools or £2 in nurseries.
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And neighbourhood wardens patrolling the streets will be reduced from 30 to 18. Libraries will also have their opening hours dramatically reduced.
Voluntary groups, such as the Central Youth Theatre, also still face cuts to their grants of £1.6 million.
The staff briefings were held as the council confirms its budget for the next year, having consulted on £123 million of cuts over the next five years.
Without deep cuts, the council had warned it would have gone bust and could even have been short of enough funding to empty the bins.
But today Councillor Lawrence said: “We have a legal budget, we won’t go insolvent and we will empty the bins. Even so, this is not at all where we want to be.
“Under normal circumstances we wouldn’t be doing any of this.”
He described the cuts as ‘painful’ and warned that no area of the council would be left untouched by cuts, with services scaled back and in some cases stopped altogether.
The council tax rise will see most properties, which fall in the cheapest Band A and Band B rating, pay an extra £1.46 and £1.70 a month respectively.
Someone in a Band D home would pay an extra £26.20 a year with those in the most expensive homes paying even more.
However, there was positive news when bosses pledged to do all they can to secure the future of Bantock House and Central Baths. They also said they were seeking volunteers to try and keep under-threat libraries open.