Suffolk Council plans £11m more misery for residents and staff

Suffolk County Council has announced over £11m worth of new cuts to services for the 2019/20 budget.

The news comes in the same week the council told staff it wants to force them to take two days of mandatory unpaid leave for each of the next two years – taking the money out of their monthly pay packets.

UNISON regional organiser Sam Leigh said: “Just weeks after Philip Hammond and Theresa May supposedly ended austerity, Suffolk County Council is piling millions of pounds worth of extra misery on residents and the staff serving them.

“Morale at the council was already at rock bottom, but this week staff have learned that money will be grabbed from their wages through mandatory unpaid leave and now many of their jobs may be threatened as services are scrapped.

“The council can’t simply keep trying to cut its way out of this crisis and making the people of Suffolk pay for its mismanagement.”

The latest cuts include:

  • Ceasing its funding for the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and accreditation and youth support service,
  • Stopping roadside bus timetables and presenting information online instead, and,
  • Reducing spend on rural bus services and relying instead on community transport schemes,
  • Winter gritting and out of hours standby services will be reduced,
  • Street lighting expenditure reduced,
  • Road sign cleaning being stopped, with only mandatory road markings being maintained,
  • Reducing housing related support for people in their own tenancies and for the provision of hostel beds,
  • Review of arrangements with district and borough councils for grass cutting and weed treatment services,
  • Reduced staffing in directorates,
  • Removal of the Citizens Advice Bureau grant,
  • Reducing the legal, training and equipment costs at Trading Standards,
  • Streamlining running costs in educational psychologists service, although there will be no cuts to frontline services.

Suffolk Council’s Labour group branded the decision to bring in more senior managers while axing other staff “immoral.”

The new director of people role will be to supervise two current corporate directors who each earn around £140,000 per year before pension and other on-costs.

The council has confirmed that the post will be paid for by getting rid of managers below board level for example by getting rid of service directors in children’s service.

“Managers responsible for delivering services will be axed in favour of a director whose job it will be to end service delivery,” said Labour.

Sarah Adams, Labour Group leader and finance spokeswoman, said: “Given the financial mess this council is in I think it is immoral that the Tories want to sack staff in order to employ someone whose job it is to further reduce the services this council delivers.”

“We have been saying for some time that this council approach to service delivery is to salami-slice services now and think about the consequences later. This is another example of the financial illiteracy that this council has pursued. So much for the end of austerity.”