Manchester city council has announced that it needs to cut some 17% of its workforce. That means about 2,000 jobs.
The leader of the Labour controlled council Sir Richard Leese places the blame squarely on the shoulders of the coalition government saying "The unfairness of the government's financial grant settlement for Manchester, one of the five worst in the country, has been widely reported. We now have to find Â£110m in savings next year – Â£60m more than expected – because of front-loading and the redistribution of money from Manchester to more affluent areas. The accelerated cuts mean we can no longer achieve the staffing reductions we have been forced into through natural turnover, which is why we are proposing a time-limited offer of voluntary severance and voluntary early retirement. At the same time, we will continue to invest through our M People employee programme to improve the skills and the productivity of the majority of our staff who will stay with us."
The council is expected to offer a voluntary redundancy package as it tries to honour its pledge not to force compulsory redundancies on the workforce. The cuts will affect all workers at every level from front level staff cleaning roads and providing social care to accountants working in back offices, teachers are exempt. Those aged over 55 are understood to be being sounded out about retirement and voluntary redundancy.
This will almost certainly have an effect not only on local services but also on the local economy as a whole. Unite has warned of industrial action and called the cuts 'savage' warning that everything from care of the old to schools to bin collections will now be put at risk.
The GMB trade union has been tracking the job cuts and puts 113,000 jobs already at risk from a total of 145 councils, fire and police authorities. There are another 350 to go.
This will not endear the Tories to those living 'up North' but the cuts would have been needed whichever party was shouldering the burden. But the pronouncement by Mervyn King to US economist David Hale prior to the general election that the winning party would be forced to make cuts that would then keep them out of power for a generation look to be edging closer. Especially if the polls are to be believed.