2,500 jobs to go at Lancashire County Council as cuts bite

County Hall
County Hall

Some 2,500 jobs are expected to be cut at Lancashire County Council as the authority announced millions in extra savings needs to be made.

County Hall chiefs have revealed they need to cut a further £223m by April 2020, on top of £152m savings announced in February.

County Coun Jennifer Mein

County Coun Jennifer Mein

The extra savings mean the council will need to have delivered cuts of £685m between 2011 and 2020.

Leaders say the cuts will have an impact on the authority’s workforce, with a total of 2,500 jobs set to go by 2018.

A reduction of 1,400 posts had already been planned, but it is now expected a further loss of 1,100 jobs will be needed.

County Coun Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “These are the most challenging times for local government in living memory as we face the combination of severe central government cuts and rising demand for our services, particularly those serving vulnerable people.

These are the most challenging times for local government in living memory

County Coun Jennifer Mein

“The scale of the challenge means we are having to make ever more difficult decisions.

“We will do all that we can, but there is no doubt that the services we provide to our communities will have to be reduced in this period and people will notice the difference.

“Our priority will remain to protect the most vulnerable people in communities across Lancashire.

“Regrettably I’m also no longer confident we can reduce our workforce on a purely voluntary basis.”

It was announced last year that the workforce would have to be reduced by about 2,500 jobs, but that figure later reduced to 1,400.

The extra savings now mean the 2,500 still applies. It is hoped most reductions can be made on a voluntary basis.

The council’s cabinet is expected to consider and consult upon proposals to
 deliver the latest savings programme over the winter, with decisions made by February 2016.

North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Babs Murphy said: “We are very sorry that people are going to be losing their jobs through these austerity measures.

“It is concerning that this announcement comes on the back of already high numbers of job losses.

“We fully expect the county council will do all it can to mitigate against these losses and hope it will work with the Chamber and other agencies in Lancashire to try to help people back into work.”

Nightmare task of budgeting

Coun David Borrow, deputy leader of the county council, said experts were now looking at where the massive savings required could be made.

He said: “Part of the process that officers are working through is to say if we want to provide the absolute minimum statutory requirement, what will it cost, and then we can see what money we are likely to have left to provide anything else.”

He said adult social care was a “vulnerable” area and added: “If they are going to cut the funding, how are we going to make sure we can deliver that?

“That’s the bit of the budget that gives me nightmares.

“As more people are getting older, including people with disabilities, demands are growing and we’ve got to deliver these services. But that demand is going up and we’ve got to find a way of managing that. It’s not an option not to provide it.”

Coun Borrow said the savings figure was an estimate based on predicted government cuts.

He said: “Before the summer recess George Osborne announced that he would ask government departments, which were not ring-fenced from cuts, to look for savings of an additional 25 to 40 per cent, so when he does his statement he’ll say where the cuts are going to come. So it is clear we are looking somewhere between 25 and 40 per cent from the Department for Communities and Local Government, and it’s about working out what it would mean for us if that happened.”