A city council has been accused of “social and economic vandalism” after revealing plans to cut thousands of jobs in a bid to save more than £300 million.
Unveiling Birmingham City Council’s business plan for the next financial year, leader Mike Whitby said the authority would “play its role” in helping to tackle the national deficit, and planned to make the savings over the next three to four years.
He said a total of 4,300 posts at the council would be cut and 3,000 more would be transferred into a schools co-operative, meaning 7,300 workers will leave the payroll, amid funding cuts from central Government.
Speaking at the Council House in Birmingham’s Victoria Square, Cllr Whitby said that the target of 4,300 had almost been met, as 1,807 council employees have already taken voluntary redundancy and a further 1,500 have opted to do so in the coming financial year.
The authority – the largest in the UK – has made 302 compulsory redundancies and is consulting over the remainder of the posts which must be cut.
The introduction of schools co-operatives means that council workers in supportive roles in Birmingham schools, including catering, cleaning and caretaking staff, will no longer be employed by the city council. They will instead be paid directly by schools.
Further savings are to come from plans to privatise adult social care, increase parking fees and remodel youth services.
Cllr Whitby, who described the savings plan as “a gargantuan challenge”, said: “Undoubtedly this has been one of the most challenging budgets to plan.
“Although, inevitably, there will be a focus on reduced spend across the public sector, it is important to remember that more than £3.5 billion is still to be spent on quality public services.”
Roger McKenzie, assistant general secretary of the Unison union, said the coalition Government had “pulled the rug from beneath Birmingham society”. He said: “This is a disastrous day for the people of Birmingham.