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Birmingham budget calls for 2,450 job cuts

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Birmingham City Council has unveiled a budget for next year that includes £212m of in-year savings and repeated predictions of 2,450 job cuts.

Details in the Business Plan 2011+ outlined ahead of a city council meeting on Monday said the authority would have a net general fund revenue budget of £1,023.4m in 2011-12, with a reduction of resources of £130.9m that mostly related to government grants.

The plan states that the “challenge” faced to balance the general budget totalled £212.8m.

While the budget repeats a figure 2,450 projected job losses for the next financial year and states that 1,500 staff have already applied for voluntary redundancy, local reports cited council leader Mike Whitby (Con) stating that some 7,000 jobs would be lost over three years.

The city council said that figure related to a November consultation document which predicted some 4,000 redundancies and early retirements by 2015 and some 3,000 staff transfers to mutuals.

Launching the business plan, Cllr Whitby said it had “undoubtedly” been one of the most challenging budgets to plan.

“We need to find more than £300m over the next three-to-four years, much of it front-loaded, with a challenge of £212m in the first year alone,” he said.

“However, we have a strong track record of fiscal stability and making savings.

“Following recent praise from our independent auditor for our ‘significant achievement’ in financial management, I am confident we are putting forward a suite of proposals which deliver the necessary savings, as well as prioritising critical frontline services.”

Roger McKenzie, Unison assistant general secretary, said the council’s package of cuts amounted to “social and economic vandalism”.

“The council have made a political decision to push ahead with punitive cuts that threaten the very viability of public services,” he said.

“These cuts are too fast and too deep. They have been planning these cuts for 15months and are pursuing them with relish.

“The decision to front-load these cuts with £212m cut in the first year alone is particularly spiteful.

“Seven thousand jobs means 7,000 families losing out, struggling to pay their mortgages or rent in this harsh economic climate.

“It means 7,000 fewer people working for our hardest hit communities.

“It means tens of thousands of people across Birmingham not receiving the services they have come to rely on.”

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