Uproar at council’s £10.5m of savings

Doncaster  Mayor Peter Davies.

Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies.

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CASH-STRAPPED council bosses who are planning to shed another 700 jobs saved almost £10.5 million last year, it has emerged.

The authority has revealed that reducing spending in some departments and non-frontline services helped it achieve a £10.48 million underspend during the last financial year.

Angry union leaders have hit out at the council accusing managers of kicking staff in the teeth at a time when many fear for their futures.

Hundreds of jobs have already gone at the council, and last week the Free Press revealed how the authority was expecting another 700 to go with top brass not ruling out compulsory redundancies.

Members of Unison are balloting for strike action over job losses.

Robin Symonds, regional organiser for Unison, blasted the council’s “significant underspend” and said members would be annoyed with the authority’s “boast”.

He said: “It’s a kick in the teeth for those who have lost their jobs and lost frontline services.

“The council appears to be going out of its way to provoke a fight with hard-working employees.

“Our members will be angry when they see this.

“Only last week they announced plans to reduce cleaning staff in the council, hundreds of people are losing their jobs and this authority is boasting about saving money.

“Those losing their jobs will be feeling pretty sick.

“There’s about £5 million of that figure the council has mentioned that isn’t really accounted for. It seems clear it is at the expense of our members’ jobs.”

The authority faces a £71 million shortfall over the next four years because of public spending cuts.

The council said some of the £10.48 million came from VAT refunds of £1.4 million, business rates rebates for schools accounted for £2.7 million and £1.4 million was saved from improved waste management. It also saved £1.1 million in its revenues and benefits service.

The council’s annual budget of £558 million faces a £30 million reduction this year, followed by £20 million, £8 million and £13 million over the following three years.

It has reserves of £5 million and was instructed by Government watchdog the Audit Commission to increase the figure.

Elected mayor Peter Davies said: “My priority has always been to reduce spending without affecting front-line services and this underspend will give the council much needed additional capacity to help fund the substantial changes we are now faced with.”

Simon Wiles, director of finance and corporate services, added: “People should be aware that as this underspend is a one-off, it does not affect our target of £71 million and does not change our plans for the coming year.”