English councils are considering slashing up to 73,000 job losses, with libraries and leisure services likely to face the brunt of cuts, fresh research suggests.
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) survey, completed by 166 councils, suggested nearly a third of the cuts are likely to be from the front-line.
Libraries and leisure services are especially vulnerable, according to the poll, with more than a quarter of local authorities planning large scale reductions to these budgets over the next twelve months.
The research follows the Local Government Association revising its job cuts estimate up from 100,000 to 140,000 in November – figures communities secretary Eric Pickles dismissed as “back of a fag packet” speculation.
Other key findings from the CIPFA survey included:
- Investment in capital projects such as new schools and leisure facilities is set to fall decisively, with a fifth of authorities expecting cuts of 50% or more, and nearly half (44%) expecting cuts of between 30-50% or more.
- All areas of council spending are likely to be affected. Services such as highways, economic development, environmental health, planning, street cleaning, waste and recycling etc face possible cuts of the order of 10-20% in many cases. Adult social care services are also vulnerable to similar levels of cuts.
- The survey shows that councils have taken to heart the advice of the government to enter into collaboration initiatives. Almost all councils (96%) intend to enter into a shared service arrangement with another local authority or are already in such an arrangement.
CIPFA chief executive Steve Freer said: “These are not final budget figures. But they illustrate the scale of the significant cuts which councils are contemplating and which will be firmed up as 2011/12 budgets are finalised over the next few weeks.”