Local government services in the historic city of Bristol will be shredded because of swingeing cuts imposed by the Tory government, trade unions warned today (Monday 22 August).
Care for older and vulnerable adults, and support for children and families are amongst the services under threat as the city council wrestles with an imposed funding cut of £60 million by 2020, starting in April 2017. In addition to these pending cuts, the council has revealed a shortfall in the savings that should have been achieved between 2014 and 2017 of £43 million.
To balance the books, the council will make around 1,000 employees redundant. The council’s total workforce is 6,500. This will save only £29 million from the shortfall of £43 million. The unions are pressing for voluntary severance as the preferred option.
Responding to today’s announcement by the council, the unions have come up with a four-point plan to stave off the worst effects of the planned cuts:
- Meaningful consultations on a plan to deliver quantifiable savings to deal with the current budget shortfall and future savings
- A review of the decisions behind the budget shortfall in the 2014-2017 period
- A review of consultancy, agency and casual contracts to ensure value for money from these contracts in future
- The mayor Marvin Rees to make representations to Whitehall on the state of local government finance and the impact on Bristol’s 450,000 population of these cuts.
Slashing 15 percent of the workforce will place unsustainable pressure on services for caring for older and vulnerable adults, and support for children and families. It will also mean cuts to sports and leisure facilities, libraries, waste services, street cleaning, highways and parks, with further cuts to come in the next three years. The council needs to be up front with residents about what the cuts will mean for local services.
Unite regional officer Stuart Davies said: “These cuts represent a clear danger to the fabric of the great city of Bristol. The scale of the current and future cuts that have been forced upon the council by an ideologically-driven austerity agenda by the current Conservative government will inevitably mean damaging cuts upon vital services that the people of Bristol rely on so heavily.”
Unison branch secretary Steve Crawshaw said: “This dire financial situation is not the fault of public service workers who’ve had a tough deal for years now. It is a result of a funding deal from the government that has left cities to pick up the pieces from Ministers’ lack of a sensible plan. Further cuts will hit the most vulnerable in the city, worsening the homelessness crisis, and further entrenching inequality. The Mayor needs to confront Theresa May and say ‘enough is enough’.”
GMB branch chair Jeff Sutton said: “Once again the citizens of Bristol will see a reduction in the services the council provides to them and over 950 staff will lose their jobs. The young, elderly and vulnerable will suffer at the hands of a Tory government hell bent on destroying public services, whilst still protecting morally corrupt banking officials.”
For further information please contact Unite regional officer Stuart Davies on 0117 923 0555 or 07764 65 5761.