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Care crisis drives county to job losses

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Worcestershire CC has opened a voluntary redundancy scheme as it faces a crisis in spending on care.

A council statement said up to 200 full-time equivalent staff would be expected to leave under plans that had been discussed with trade unions.

Staff can apply until 12 November and those chosen would leave next March, although some roles including children’s social workers will be exempt.

In his annual statement due to be put to the council next week, leader Simon Geraghty (Con) said: “In September we reported a projected £17.9m overspend at the end of the financial year without action, of which £15m relates to adult social care.

“Measures totalling £12.7m have been put in place to bring this down to £5.2m but further action was required to aim to bring this into balance and so, a voluntary redundancy scheme has been opened for a short window alongside the service restructures.”

Cllr Geraghty said child and adult social care together accounted for nearly 70% of Worcestershire’s net budget, and with waste disposal and debt management taking 9% each, “this leaves little room for manoeuvre”.

He said: “As a national issue, the funding of adult social care requires a national funding solution.

“In the absence of these national decisions, individual councils such as Worcestershire, will be required to allocate increasing sums to social care potentially crowding out spending on other services.”

A Worcester Unison statement said: ”Our main thought is this is a sign of panic from the county council, and that it clearly shows the cuts to local government budgets have reached a stage of complete unsustainability.

”Not only will residents and service users feel the pain of these job losses, so will hard-working colleagues left to cover even more duties and vital tasks.”

LGC analysis of official statistics earlier in the year showed how councils’ total workforce had decreased nationally from 2.89 million in 2010 to 2.12 million in 2017. There had been a 9% reduction in the previous two years alone.

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