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Wage costs reduced by £1.4bn

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The wage bill in local government fell by almost a tenth in one year, according to figures published by the LGA.

A combination of job cuts, pay freeze, and changes to terms and conditions sliced £1.4bn off the council payroll in the 12 months leading up to March this year.

The huge reduction in workforce costs represents a 9.7% real terms reduction and has been powered in large part by the 214,000 jobs lost in the year after the government announced 28% cuts to local government funding.

As the sector steps up its campaign to prevent the government repeating cuts of that magnitude, the chair of the LGA’s workforce board warned that councils could not sustain workforce cuts of that scale without service closures and compulsory redundancies.

Sir Steve Bullock (Lab) said: “The big saving has come from reducing the workforce which we have been able to do largely through voluntary redundancies and not replacing workers when they retire or move to jobs elsewhere.

“It will be impossible to deliver the same savings again without another big reduction in the workforce which will inevitably involve a much higher proportion of compulsory redundancies.

“Front-line services will be hit and some of the services residents currently expect their council to deliver will have to be wound down.”

Unison’s head of local government, Heather Wakefield, called on the LGA to stop “boasting about the deep, painful cuts” made in local government. “The LGA should instead be challenging the government and standing up for council services and jobs,” she said.

Local government workers had paid for the cuts through a three day pay freeze in the face of rising living costs.

“The cuts are also a direct hit on local economies in desperate need of people spending in shops and businesses,” she said.

Following publication of the LGA’s earnings data on Tuesday, the Taxpayers Alliance are expected to publish their ‘Town Hall Rich List’ on Wednesday providing details of senior officers’ salaries gleaned from councils’ 2010-11 accounts.

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