Councils in Devon and Cornwall cut staff by 14,000 in four years
The number of people employed by councils across Devon and Cornwall has fallen by almost 14,000 in the last four years.
The biggest reductions in headcount have taken place at the region’s unitary authorities – although much of this has come from staff transferring out from the local authority – e.g. through schools converting to academy status.
For example, in Cornwall, which has seen the biggest drop in employee numbers, the council said that half of the 8,000 reduction had come from the conversion to academy schools. Cornwall Council said 50 schools in the county had already gained academy status, with a further nine in the final stages of the process. A further 40 have either made an application for conversion or are expected to do so shortly.
The council said a further 3,000 employees had left direct council employment because of changes to service delivery which have seen new entities such as Cormac, the Leisure Trust (Tempus) and Cornwall Housing created.
NEW IN : for those cold winter nights highland check dog and cat beds in stock, fleecy and washable ideal for those nights snuggling by the fire...... available in 3 colourways
Contact: 01271 440626
Valid until: Saturday, January 25 2014
Similarly, in Torbay, 279 staff transferred to TOR2 and 64 to the Torbay Development Agency when they were set up outside the local authority.
While all of the Westcountry’s councils have recorded a drop in payroll numbers, some of the region’s smaller authorities have recorded only marginal drops in employee numbers, with West Devon reducing its head count by 16, South Hams by 35 and Torridge seeing a drop of 26. South Hams and West Devon share some staff.
Since the coalition government began its austerity programme there have been concerns about the level of central government funding that is being made available to local authorities, with fears that front-line services could be affected if settlements are reduced.
Dale Atkinson, spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Across all local authorities since the start of the Comprehensive Spending Review, 350,000 jobs have gone which, in part, is a reflection of the fact that there have been changes like the move to academy schools.
“That accounts for some of those numbers, but by no means the majority, the reason that staff have been reduced is that councils are being cut by 43% across this Parliament.
“Local authorities, as service providers, their biggest cost is staff and the reduction in central government funding combined with the cap on council tax means that councils have had to reduce their workforce in response to that and there is a knock-on effect on services.
“It’s a reflection of the fact that councils are now in a much different financial situation than they were three years ago.”
Mel Stride, Conservative MP for Central Devon, said: “Some of these reductions in employee numbers may be due to the outsourcing of services including maintained schools converting to academies but it will also be the case that significant reductions in staff have occurred due to the efficiency savings needed to help tackle the country’s deficit.”