Council slashes hundreds of jobs in emergency budget amid coronavirus fallout

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Luton Borough Council have announced 365 job losses in their emergency budget. (Wikipedia)

Luton Borough Council has announced at least 365 job losses from its workforce due to a hole in finances left from the coronavirus pandemic.

As well as cuts to staff, frontline services in the borough also face being cut in the council’s emergency budget.

The fallout from the COVID-19 crisis has left the local authority with a £50m shortfall in finances – despite money being provided to councils across the country to deal with the immediate aftermath of the pandemic.

Proposals to the cuts to frontline services include a reduction in adult social care, reduced funding for mental health support services and energy savings on street lights.

Luton Borough Council has blamed the coronavirus pandemic for a shortfall in finances. (PA)

Charges will also be introduced for green waste collections, the council said.

Leader of the council Hazel Simmons MBE said the measures would mean “the prospect of further suffering for the people of Luton”.

She added: “As a result of coronavirus there is already so much misery in the town and behind these stark figures are individuals with livelihoods and families to care for.

“These past few weeks have been the worst of my political career. The council has repeatedly called on central government to provide adequate emergency funding, but so far these pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

Read more: Sadiq Khan takes £15,300 pay cut amid warning on austerity after coronavirus

“If they continue to adopt this stance of indifference we will be forced to implement extreme savings measures to avoid the possibility of bankruptcy, which itself would have an even more destructive impact on services.

“Throughout this crisis council staff have shown unbelievable levels of dedication and sacrifice, yet now, through no fault of their own, a number of them are at risk of losing their jobs. It is an extremely bitter pill to swallow.”

Current job vacancies are set to be deleted, while staff will be offered voluntary redundancies, reduced hours and flexible retirement.

Cllr Simmons added: “To see some of the key proposals laid starkly before us is deeply shocking and to even contemplate them goes against everything I stand for.

The government supplied extra money for councils in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP)

"Each one of them will have a negative impact on frontline services.

"Unfortunately we have no choice but to do this unless we get government funding.”

The proposals now face a consultation period before the final emergency budget papers are published on 1 July.

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