GMB warns of 200,000 council job losses in England

Refuse collection in Hammersmith and Fulham
Image caption The union says the full impact of job losses is yet to be revealed

Some 200,000 jobs will be cut by councils in England this year as a result of reductions in central government funding, a union has warned.

GMB national officer Brian Strutton claimed the size and speed of the cuts could be unprecedented.

The union fears councils will rush through redundancies before the end of the financial year in March.

Local government minister Grant Shapps dismissed the union's claims as reckless scaremongering.

Thousands of notices have already been issued to public sector workers saying their position is "at risk", but the GMB said many more would soon be sent out.

Wiped out

Mr Strutton claimed about half of the councils in England had yet to announce their response to the funding cuts, and when they did they would want to get employees out of the door as quickly as possible.

In total, he reckoned 150,000 jobs would go from directly employed council workers, and a further 50,000 among contractors and agency staff.

The union fears redundancies will be across the board, with entire council services being wiped out.

Mr Shapps urged councils to save money and protect front line services by cutting executive pay and pooling activities.

Estimate increased

The Local Government Association has predicted coalition spending cuts will lead to the loss of 140,000 council jobs in England and Wales in the next year.

Local authority leaders originally forecast 100,000 posts would go as a result of October's Spending Review, but revised up its estimate a month later after studying the impact of planned town hall budget cuts.

However, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles questioned how the association arrived at its numbers.

"I have seen better figures put together on the back of a fag packet," he said.

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