£22m of cuts would mean misery for Luton

Plans for £22m of cuts and hundreds of job losses at Luton Borough Council will ‘heap misery’ on the town, UNISON warns today.

The Council faces a £50m shortfall because of the Covid-19 pandemic, mainly because of its reliance on income from the airport. The £11.2m from central Government falls well short of what’s needed to make up the deficit.

Adult social care, home care, mental health support and early years services all face a funding hit, according to the Council’s proposals.

At least 365 posts are under threat, with the Council saying it will minimise job losses through not filling vacancies and most of the losses will come in the school meals service, where it hopes staff will be able to transfer to new providers or direct to schools.

However, UNISON says the Council has so far failed to consult on redundancies and only last week staff were told no plans had been made about cuts.

The union is supporting calls for central government to provide more money to Luton and other cash-strapped councils to avoid disastrous cuts to local services.

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UNISON Eastern regional organiser Lorraine Kalaher said: “These cuts will heap misery on Luton.

“It’s terrible news for the town but it’s a real slap in the face for the staff who have worked flat out to keep the council and its vital services going.

“The Council’s failure to adequately consult staff or unions makes it all the worse.

“But these cuts weren’t made in Luton – they can be traced directly back to Downing Street.

“The Government rightly changed its mind on free school meals. It must do the right thing for Luton and other local communities by providing councils with the funding they need.”