Cornwall Council is to discuss axeing 400 jobs as it continues to seek ways to save £77m over the coming four years.
A proposed “workforce reduction”, equivalent to 388 full-time employees, is outlined in a report to go before cabinet on Wednesday.
This number may, however, reduce to 167 following a series of “mitigations”, including a reduction in spending on agency staff.
This comes after LGC research revealed how councils have collectively spent almost £4bn making 223,000 staff redundant since 2010.
A Cornwall Council spokeswoman said the local authority, like others, ”is going through a period of deep budget cuts” due to major cuts to central government grants and pointed to LGC analysis of official statistics earlier in the year which showed how councils’ total workforce had decreased nationally from 2.89 million in 2010 to 2.12 million in 2017.
“To protect the delivery of vital services, we need to ensure we run an efficient organisation, both now and in the future,” the spokeswoman said. “The proposed reduction in posts are over four years and are a small proportion of our total workforce. We have said we will make this reduction through vacancy management and natural turnover, reduced agency support and the use of temporary contracts which will reduce the potential number affected to 167. We will also seek to retrain and redeploy affected staff, avoiding the need for redundancies as much as possible.”
In a separate business plan outlining budget 2019-20 proposals and the medium term financial plan 2019-23, director for resources Andy Brown said the council’s planned £77m savings were in addition to the £300m the council has already saved since 2009-10 and added the target had not changed since councillors last discussed the medium term financial plan in July.
Responses to a recent council consultation showed that residents “generally appreciate” the need for savings and there is popular support for the council to “lobby government to reduce the impact of national funding cuts on Cornwall”.
Mr Brown said the council retains an “ambition to be self-sufficient” from central government grants from April 2022 - the same year the revenue support grant to the county looks set to end - adding that independence requires a “new approach towards medium term financial planning”.
The council is looking to source additional resource of around £13m a year to meet the “estimated cost of inflation on pay and supplies and services”.
Mr Brown said the council is “not expecting” government grants to increase in line with this inflation, and would therefore need to finance the increased costs alone.
“It is planned that this will be achieved through a programme of continuous improvements, releasing efficiency savings of around 1% per annum, and not through cuts to service provision,” he wrote.
The council report proposed a 10% increase in investment in adult social services and a 2% increase in services for people on low incomes to “mitigate” the impact of “inflationary pressures”.
In referencing the “recent events” at Northamptonshire CC, Somerset CC, East Sussex CC and Torbay Council, specifically, Mr Brown said Cornwall “does not want to face the position currently faced by these authorities of only providing services at the statutory minimum.”
The council report details that the majority of cuts to councils services “are not expected to have a differential impact on protected or vulnerable groups”, following a series of impact assessments on the proposed spending cuts.
The council’s capital programme is also recommended to increase from £727.7m to £777m for 2018-19, as extra spending is recommended for improvements to the county’s highways , housing and other projects that “will support economic growth”, including the roll-out of superfast bBroadband.
In a separate performance report, Mr Brown reported a forecast revenue overspend of £3.6m for 2018/19 - 0.65% above the net revenue budget of £550m. Spending on adult social care is projected to overspend by £1.9m while children’s services is forecast to overspend by £120,000.
This story was updated at 17.19 on 19 September to include comments from Cornwall Council.