Almost twice as many public sector jobs have been lost across the North-East under the Government’s cuts than originally forecast, claims the TUC.
And the union organisation is warning of more to come, with councils facing further cuts in the new financial year.
It was revealed last week that Hartlepool Borough Council is to get £8.3million less in the financial year 2015/16 than in the previous 12 months.
The TUC says analysis of the latest figures show there are 59,000 fewer public sector jobs in the North-East than when the coalition came to power in 2010 – almost twice the figure originally predicted when Chancellor George Osborne outlined the planned cuts immediately after the election.
The TUC says Office of National Statistics data reveals the region’s public sector has contracted by an average 1,157 public sector jobs per month since June 2010.
And with more than seven months’ data still to be collected before the end of this parliament, the Northern TUC is predicting the loss of at least 8,000 more public sector jobs in the region.
Northern TUC policy and campaigns officer Neil Foster said:
“The loss of 59,000 jobs from the public sector has been terrible news for services in the region and for the individuals affected. But it has also harmed our region’s recovery and contributed a deterioration of the quality of jobs.
“The cuts have been even deeper here than many expected because the coalition has made bigger reductions to funding for councils in poorer areas in the north than to more affluent parts of southern England. The North-East continues to have the highest unemployment in the UK and double the rate of the South East of England.
“Only a small proportion of private sector jobs created have been full-time, secure or well paid, which is one of the reason why income tax receipts have fallen this last year.
“Women make up two thirds of public sector workers, and so it is not a surprise that the number of women out of work in the North-East has risen by a quarter in the last two years as more and more redundancies have been made. Rather than appreciate the failure of taking such an extreme and damaging path, the Chancellor announced earlier this month that he wants to see even more cuts in the future, which would be devastating for us here.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 29 Dec 2014
Crunch talks are taking place today in a bid to save hundreds of North jobs following the collapse of parcel delivery firm City Link.
Union officials from the RMT are meeting the company’s administrators Ernst and Young (EY) in the hope they can hammer out a deal to prevent nearly 3,000 job losses, including those at its branches at Belmont in County Durham, Wardley in Gateshead and Carlisle in Cumbria.
The move comes after City Link announced – on Christmas Day – that it is going into administration after years of “substantial losses.”
The union claims the company employes hundreds of people in the North East, although exactly how many is not yet known.
It has branded the move “truly devastating” for the region’s economy.
Officials are to meet in Leeds this afternoon to discuss the fate of the firm’s 2,727 staff, and union bosses have vowed to stay in talks for as long as it takes to salvage jobs.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
“RMT’s objective now is to do everything we can to rescue jobs in the wake of the shock collapse into administration of City Link on Christmas Day.
“Despite the festive season there can be no delays in getting on with the rescue programme and we expect the government through Vince Cable to take an active role right now.
“The thousands of workers caught in the middle of this crisis deserve full support from every quarter.”
The union has demanded “urgent talks” with business secretary Mr Cable and said it is disappointed the minister has only pledged to meet them in the new year.
Coventry-based City Link, which is understood to have counted John Lewis among its largest clients, expects numerous redundancies after no buyer could be found to bail it out.
The RMT said it believed there may have been “more cynical motives” behind the decision to “delay” the announcement until Christmas Day and demanded an investigation.
A spokesman for the union in the North said:
“Hundreds of jobs will be placed at risk in the North East and this will be truly devastating for the economy.”
City Link operations have been suspended at all its depots until Monday, when customers and those expecting deliveries will be able to collect their parcels.
Investment firm Better Capital, led by veteran venture capitalist Jon Moulton, bought the courier group for just £1 in April last year from the previous owner, pest control firm Rentokil.
A number of staff will be retained to help return parcels to customers and help with winding down the company, EY said.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 27 Dec 2014
Up to 350 jobs are under threat at North Tyneside Council. Union members were informed this week that the council had submitted an HR1 notification form, detailing potential redundancies.
The authority’s chief executive Patrick Melia said the potential job losses are in light of the council’s budget reducing by up to £50m.
“It is expected that the Council’s budget will reduce by £46 – £50m over the next three years.
“As part of this process we are required to issue an HR1 notice, which is a formal legal document which confirms the possible reduction in posts expected over a period of time.
“We will once again put our efforts into working with trade unions on any measures which will mitigate or reduce the number of compulsory redundancies necessary.”
He added that the council has a good track record in minimising the number of compulsory redundancies and in previous years many redundancies had been voluntary.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 03 Oct 2014
Months of pressuring the Government to think again on council spending cuts worth more than £210m a year have seen ministers hand out just £143,000 extra for the North East.
Across the region councils have being setting out where the axe will fall, with the next three years likely to see the cuts total rising to more than £800m.
But after months of high level delegations taking part in desperate Whitehall lobbying missions, the coalition Government has increased the budget available to the region’s councils and fire brigade by an average of just £20,000 each.
The total amount for the region’s seven councils and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service increased from £1,081,128 to £1,081,271, a rise of just 0.013%.
The final spending handout for 2014/15 will mean there is no way for councils to drop plans to axe Sure Start centres, make hundreds of redundancies or force up parking charges.
And plans to close down three fire stations will certainly go ahead after the Government announced the final funding settlement for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue will see an increase of just £4,000, despite pleas for extra cash.
The North East has been lobbying against the perceived “unfairness” of the cuts since the coalition began axing budgets in 2010. Those efforts stepped up a gear in the last few months after yet more spending reductions for local government were announced in the autumn.
Included in the lobbying effort was work by the Association of North East Councils, which met with local government minister Brandon Lewis to put the case for a fairer funding settlement.
The extra £143,000 handed over as a result is considerably less than the money handed over each year by the region’s seven local authorities to the Association of North East Councils, with Northumberland alone having handed over more than £98,000 this financial year.
Last night former Newcastle Council leader Lord Beecham said it was clear the coalition was not interested in fairly funding local government in the North.
The peer said: “The Government has completely failed to redress the grossly unfair distribution of grant which hits Newcastle and other less-well off areas and benefits the more affluent.
“The extra we receive in the final settlement amounts to less than 25p per household per year and means that there is no protection from the tidal wave of cuts to services which the Government has launched.”
And Northumberland’s Labour council leader Grant Davey said: “It’s disappointing that, yet again, the coalition have failed to listen to Northumberland and have shaved a minute £18,000 from cuts to services worth £32.5m this year.
“Many would say such a derisory figure is an insult to the residents of the county but it shows how little David Cameron and Nick Clegg think of the North East.
“It’s time our coalition MPs started to stand up for their county rather than sit quiet as Cameron and Clegg ravish the services their constituents rely on.”
Northumberland County Council is the only one in the region to put up council tax next year, rising by 1.99%, the maximum allowed without putting the increase to a local referendum.
The Government has pointed to a grant to freeze council tax in most other areas as one way in which many households will benefit from its funding settlement.
Announcing the final settlement, Mr Lewis said: “This settlement marks the second year of local business rates retention and we have again tried to be fair to all parts of the country whether north, south, rural or urban.
“Given the local flexibilities and freedoms that we have put in place, local councils should now work to support local enterprise, building more homes and backing local jobs, so that they can then invest the rewards of growth in local services and in lower taxes.”
Source – Newcastle Journal 17 Feb 2014
RENTS for 18,000 council tenants in South Tyneside are to rise by an average of £5.50 a week, it has been revealed.
However, there was better news for residents in the borough as South Tyneside Council boss, Coun Ed Malcolm, revealed that Council Tax bills are to be frozen for the fourth consecutive year.
The details emerged from the local authority’s budget plans for the coming 12 months in which it needs to find another £18m worth of savings.
That is made up of a £9m reduction in Government funding and another £9m in other areas – particularly services for the young and elderly.
Savings need to be identified out of a revenue budget – made up from government funding and Council Tax payments – of £148m for 2014/15.
Despite the pressures, the council is committed to spending almost £5m improving borough highways and footpaths.
It is pushing ahead with selling off council buildings which are regarded as being “surplus to requirement” – with profits re-invested in capital programmes.
As a result of a Council Tax freeze, the owner of an average Band C property in the borough will pay an estimated £1,290 for the year from April.
Meanwhile, council rents will increase by 6.8 per cent, which is in line with Government guidelines.
That would mean the average weekly borough rent, which currently stands at £78.34 over a 48-week period, rising by about £5.50 – which still represents the lowest level in Tyne and Wear.
It’s estimated the hike will add an additional £4.7m to the council’s coffers.
Coun Malcolm, the council’s lead member for resources and innovation, today pledged that “no one would suffer” as a result of the budget proposals he has overseen.
There was also a commitment that job losses at the council will be less than in previous years – with more than 1,000 posts shed since 2010.
He said: “Even though we have had £18m of budget cuts to find this year, I’m confident that this budget will mean we can still provide services to anyone who wants them, anyone who needs them.
“No one will suffer because of this budget. As a Labour council, we remain committed to social justice.
“The key message is that is that we are continuing to get funding reductions, we’ve got nine per cent less core funding and we still have the standstill financial pressures on top.
“We’re going to be freezing Council Tax for the fourth consecutive year and that means we will have the third lowest in the North East, and we remain committed to our ambitious regeneration of the borough.
“We face £18m worth of savings in the year ahead. The days of salami-slicing budgets are over.
“We’ve looked at integration, working with partners in the private sector, the public sector and the voluntary sector on Adult and Social Care.
“The council has a lot of buildings which have passed their sell-by-date and I think we can work more efficiently by redesigning the town hall and have the majority of staff transferred there.
“Then we have the community hubs which will provide a majority of services under one roof.”
Coun Malcolm added: “There will still be job implications but we will endeavour to keep away from compulsory redundancies.
“Because we are redesigning services there will be redundancies but we envisage there will be less than in previous years. We are also putting substantial investment in highways and pathways and increasing amount of money going to Community Area Forums by £50,000.”
Merv Butler, branch secretary of Unison South Tyneside, said: “Jobs-wise, next year we are hearing that there will be a little bit of respite in terms of a large number of job losses.
“But there are still going to be job losses in the area of business support and the merger of some other services together.”
Source – Shields Gazette 05 Feb 2014