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County considers cutting 130 jobs amid 'huge financial challenge'

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Somerset CC is to discuss whether to cut 130 jobs due to its “huge financial challenge”.

Chief executive Pat Flaherty emailed staff last week to announce his team was considering a “reduction in services” and “changes to staffing structures”, according to a Somerset Live report.

Somerset CC leader David Fothergill (Con) said in a statement: “We’ve been open and honest about the huge financial challenge that this authority, and councils up and down the country, are having to deal with.

“We’ve found around £130m of savings and efficiencies in the last eight years and you cannot take 40% of funding out of an organisation without there being an impact.”

Somerset, which has a net revenue budget of about £316m in 2018-19, has an estimated funding gap of £13m this year.

Cllr Fothergill said he could see “no sign of any bailout from Westminster” and added the council has to “live within its means”. The redundancies are expected to be discussed at full council on 12 September.

LGC reported last month that the council had considered asking staff to take unpaid leave over the next two Christmas holidays in order to save £1m.

This followed a report in July from auditor Grant Thornton which found that the council “does not have proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources”.

Cllr Fothergill said that a formal consultation with council workers’ unions on potential redundancies continued and the council would look to reduce costs through voluntary redundancy programmes and the removal of vacant posts “wherever possible”.

“The coming weeks will be very difficult for the council and its staff, but we have to achieve financial stability and the end result will be a council that can afford itself and continue to provide valuable, long-term sustainable services for our residents,” he said.

 

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