More than 600 jobs could go at city council

Senior Leeds City councillors will consider a report which anticipates cutting at least 600 jobs from the council’s workforce.

The council is contending with the major financial impact of coronavirus, with its leader warning the pandemic has “blown a devastating hole” in its budget.

As part of a meeting of the executive board on 21 October 2020, members will be able to consider how the council is proposing to identify further savings in order to try to meet a £118.8m shortfall which is estimated for the 2021/22 budget.

This follows the executive board meeting in September already agreeing savings amounting to £32m, mainly made up from back office savings, including a £2m reduction to the council’s business administration service, as well as savings in IT and through reducing the council’s office base.

Included in the October report is an overall anticipated reduction in the workforce for 2021/22 of 617 posts, based on proposals approved at the September executive board meeting and those being considered next week.

A number of additional initial proposals regarding services and facilities which the council currently manages have also been put forward.

Measures include:

▪ Proposal to consult on the closure of two care homes: Homelea House in Rothwell and Richmond House in Farsley. Any decisions to move ahead with closure, would include a full public consultation and work to identify other care home accommodation suited to the individual needs of residents currently living at both care homes.

▪ A proposed increase in client contributions for adult social care services, maintaining means-testing.

▪ Proposed reduction in opening hours at Lotherton Hall and Thwaite Mills.

▪ Proposed closure of Yeadon Tarn Sailing Centre.

▪ Review of opening hours and staffing rotas within Community Hub/library provision across the city.

▪ Proposed closure of Otley (Ellar Ghyll) household waste and recycling centre. If given the go-ahead, staff affected would be redeployed to vacancies on other sites or elsewhere in the service.

▪ Carrying out a public consultation with young people regarding proposal on the potential introduction of an annual charge of £3 for Breezecard to cover administrative costs. Appropriate concessions would continue to be kept to be place.

▪ Proposed closure of West Leeds Country Park Visitor Centre in Pudsey Park. If given the go-ahead, work would be undertaken to look at the potential opportunity of repurposing or replacing the existing buildings with a park café which could retain some of the educational elements of the visitor centre.

Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Judith Blake, said: “The pandemic has had a huge impact on the council’s budget for 2021/22.

“The stark reality of the situation is set out in the proposals detailed in this executive board report where we have had to take some incredibly tough decisions on the services and facilities that we deliver and manage.

“The Government rightly wants local authorities to take more of a leading role in fighting the pandemic.

“However, without significantly more funding from central government we will be fighting the virus with one hand tied behind our back, due to the devastating hole COVID-19 has blown in our budget.

“We have and will continue to do everything possible to ensure the impact on our staff and the important services that the council provides is kept to an absolute minimum.

“This includes taking every step to ensure any reductions in the council’s workforce do not include compulsory redundancies, and to protect where possible our vital front-line services.

“But the fact remains that in the current challenging climate of coronavirus and the subsequent huge rise in our budget deficit, this task is becoming greater as every day passes.

“As a matter of urgency further assistance is required nationally to meet the stark budget shortfall the council faces.”

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