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COUNTY PLANS TO CUT 100 JOBS

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Devon CC has announced plans to seek 100 voluntary redundancies in a bid to help bridge a£15 million gap in Govern...
Devon CC has announced plans to seek 100 voluntary redundancies in a bid to help bridge a£15 million gap in Government funding for the county's public services.

The jobs, primarily in management and supervisory roles, are part of a£5 million savings plan to cut staffing, property and travel costs.

The tough action comes on top of a recruitment freeze which has already frozen 160 vacant posts since early January and is likely to save£130,000 in the first month alone.

County Council Leader, Brian Greenslade, said: 'This is a sad day. Our dedicated staff are a big reason why Devon County Council is the only major council in the South West with a top four-star rating for quality services and value for money from the independent Audit Commission. We will work closely with staff representatives to handle the job losses as sensitively as we can.

'This is a tough decision, but one we have had to make in the face of the Government's funding plans which will leave the County Council facing at least a£15 million black hole in our vital public services.

'Devon's public services are getting£50 per person LESS Government grant than the average English county - that amounts to a loss of a massive£36 million for services across the county.

'This is hard for our staff, but there are many families on low incomes in Devon for whom life is a lot harder. We have a responsibility to them to protect the services they depend on as much as we possibly can and we have to achieve that without making unaffordable Council Tax demands on people's incomes.

'Even if we had wanted to raise Council Tax significantly, we have little scope for increases given the Government's capping restrictions.'

Part of the explanation for the£15 million shortfall lies in Government plans to redistribute£6.4 million of grant away from Devon to other areas of the country, but there are other contributory factors such as the increasing need for greater social care support for people in Devon communities -- particularly those with learning disabilities and children who need looking after.

The County Council also faces a forecast rise in road maintenance costs of 14% which is driven by the increasing cost of oil, steel and concrete.

The underlying problem is that Whitehall's criteria for distributing grant are still largely influenced by property prices and not by people's incomes. The result is that from London's perspective Devon appears to be wealthy when in fact average incomes are the third lowest in the country.

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