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More job losses loom at cash-strapped Sandwell Council

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Sandwell's finance boss today said the council needs to cut jobs to ensure it is able to continue to protect frontline services.

Deputy leader of Sandwell Council and finance boss Councillor Steve Eling said positions were expected to be shed within central departments such as human resources and IT.

All staff in those departments, and others under the council's 'Improvement and Efficiency' banner, will be put at risk of redundancy from June 18.

A total of £3.728m needs to be saved within that area. The exact number of positions at risk is not yet known.

It comes after the cancellation of a £300 million contract between the council and BT earlier this year, when functions such as HR and IT were brought in-house.

Councillor Eling said: "We are looking to achieve job losses through voluntary means and I'm quite confident actually that if we don't achieve 100 per cent we will get very close to that."

He added that a restructure is being carried out in order that Sandwell Council can continue to meet its front-line commitments.

"If we are to continue to protect and staff front-line services that the public use every day, in these support services functions within the council, which are still important functions, delivering greater and greater efficiencies is critical," he said.

More job losses are also expected to be made in the finance and accountancy departments, as part of those were also brought in-house after the cancellation of the BT contract.

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A report on that department is expected later this month, with the consultation for those staff expected to begin in early July.

Consultation periods are expected to end in September or October.

The local authority left its planned 15-year contract with BT, called Transform Sandwell, nine years early after bosses said they were unhappy with the service.

The deal was signed in 2007 and saw the council pay £15 million a year to BT for the management of some services.

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However last July the authority told the telecommunications giant it wanted to bring its contract to an end, unless BT addressed issues raised by the council within 30 days.

The disagreement could not be resolved and the contract was terminated.

More than 2,500 people have left Sandwell Council alone since 2010.

In December last year, it was announced that another 500 posts could go by 2017. Ways of raising extra funds includes increased fees for burying and cremating loved ones will bring in £120,000.

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