Council staff are facing another bleak New Year

Hastings Town Hall ENGSUS00120130430155142
Hastings Town Hall ENGSUS00120130430155142

Council staff face another bleak New Year with job cuts looming on the horizon once again.

Just two years after Hastings Borough Council (HBC) cut 40 jobs an ‘unprecedented’ £1.7 million in government funding, the axe is set to be wielded again.

Frontline and back room staff are under threat according to council leader Jeremy Birch who is furious at what he called ‘a really unwelcome Christmas present’.

And according to Councillor Birch Hastings is among the 20 local authorities in the country that are facing the largest reduction in their spending power.

This follows the Government’s recent 2015-16 financial settlement for local councils.

The borough council states the government announced that across the country the average reduction for council funding is 1.8 per cent. Hastings faces the maximum 6.4 per cent reduction.

Cllr Birch said: “This means another year of significantly higher reductions for Hastings than for other councils. The 6.4 per cent reduction for us is the highest in the south east yet we are the most deprived local authority in the region. The reductions are not evenly distributed. South Oxfordshire District Council, which is the prime minister’s local authority, will see a 1.5 per cent increase in its spending power. Hastings is on course for a cut of more than 50 per cent in cash terms from 2010 to the end of the coming financial year in 2016.

Local Government Minsiter Kris Hopkins said: “We have been working to give hard-working people greater financial security by taking action to keep council tax down. There is extra money on the table for all councils which pledge to freeze council tax bills next year and we would urge them to take it to help their residents with the cost of living. The local government settlement is fair to all parts of the country – north and south, rural and urban, city and shire – therefore every council should be able to deliver sensible savings while protecting frontline services for local taxpayers.”

The council’s budget proposals will be published on January 16 for a four-week consultation period and then will go before the full council for a final decision on February 25.

The authority has already approved the loss of one of the three chief officer roles.

A review is now set to take place for the current seven heads of department roles in a bid to make more savings.

In 2013 HBC cut 40 jobs in the wake of losing what Cllr Birch called an ‘unprecedented’ £1.7 million in government funding. It was the second major wave of cuts in two years after the authority shed up to 40 posts in January 2011.