Hundreds more jobs face axe as councils agree budget cuts

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TWO Yorkshire councils have approved plans to shed millions from their budgets as massive public sector cuts hit home across the region.

At a full meeting of Leeds City Council yesterday, savings of
almost £55m were agreed by councillors at the Civic Hall.

The cost-cutting measures included controversial plans to charge for Sunday and evening city centre parking, increase council house rents and scrap school uniform grants.

Opposition councillors put forward proposals to introduce a ‘living wage’ to help lower paid council staff, earmark more money to employ more in-house foster carers and fund a £12m housing scheme to boost the local economy. But the majority of councillors backed the Labour-led council’s plan.

Coun Keith Wakefield, leader of the council, told the meeting: “Our budget has to be set against an economy that during 2012 showed no growth, making it the worst economic recovery in 100 years.”

The approved budget also includes saving around £1m by raising nursery fees for subsidised childcare by £2 a day and the rolling out of fortnightly bin collections, while a food collection pilot will be extended to an extra 3,000 homes.

More than half of the council’s savings come from cuts to the children’s services and adult social care budgets.

The budget, which will see a further 300 full-time jobs shed at the council, also features a freeze on council tax for the third consecutive year.

Councillors in Wakefield also gave the nod to a two-year budget which will slash spending by £46m and axe 120 jobs. Council tax charges are also set to increase by one per cent in the district after yesterday’s vote, which will see the local authority cut spending by £24m in 2013/14 and £22m in 2014/15.

Wakefield Council, which has made £41m of savings in the last two years, has already shed 900 jobs since 2010.

A further 120 jobs are to go over the next two years as the council seeks to make massive savings across a string of council departments.

Coun Peter Box, leader of the Labour controlled council, told yesterday’s budget meeting: “As always we hope that any job losses can be achieved on a voluntary basis. The savings being proposed are across the whole of the council – we are not singling out any individual service.”