Wakefield Council to cut 1,400 jobs, raise council tax and make savings of £61m

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Wakefield Council is set to slash 1,400 jobs and increase council tax as it looks to make £61m of cuts during the next two years.

Council leader Peter Box said the authority was being forced into making savings of £38m in 2015–16, in addition to the £23m of cuts already announced for 2014–15.

He said frontline services would deteriorate and that the financial situation was ‘the worst he had ever seen’ owing to the decrease in government funding available to the council.

The budget report, which will be considered by cabinet next week, proposes cuts of £20m from the adult care budget, £5m from services for children and young people and £8m by reorganising bereavement services.

A two per cent increase of council tax is planned, providing the government does not change the percentage by which a council can impose a rise without holding a referendum.

Coun Box said the council had decided to reject a government grant of one per cent to freeze the tax, as it would have meant finding an extra £900,000 of cuts.

Coun Box said: “This is a real problem for us. We have got to make £38m of cuts and that means we have got to look at stopping some services and offering others to a lesser degree. It is not a very happy situation – I have never known it this bad in all my years in local government.”

If the report is agreed at cabinet, it will be presented to full council on February 26. The cuts would also see sports development scrapped, CCTV coverage reduced, charges for bulky waste collections increased and parks and open spaces kept in a more ‘unkempt, natural state’.

Union officials from Unison said they had not been consulted about the job losses, which come on top of 1,000 that have already been lost.

Kevin Osborne, regional officer, said: “This came as a big shock to us. Staff have been caused a lot of upset and anxiety. We are in discussions with our members and are trying to organise meetings with the council.”