Region's councils prepare for harsh job cuts

FOUR Yorkshire councils expect to slash at least 1,000 jobs each by 2015, according to a survey of town halls preparing for a squeeze on public spending after the General Election.

Kirklees, Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield are among eight local authorities in England who have forecast four-figure reductions to their workforces over the next five years.

Calderdale, Wakefield and York also expect to lose staff, while other councils in the region refused to make a prediction when asked to estimate how many employees would be on their payrolls in future.

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The survey results, published today, indicate that at least 25,000 council jobs in England will be under threat in the next three to five years.

The results will fuel agitation among public sector workers about the prospect of spending cuts after the election as the main parties pledge to tackle the country's budget deficit.

Up to 100 protesters demonstrated outside the Tories' spring conference in Brighton yesterday, forcing David Cameron to enter the venue via an underground car park.

The survey was sent to 150 councils in England, although only 93 replied and a lower number chose to answer certain questions.

Kirklees Council said it expected its workforce to shrink from 8,500 to 7,000 within the next three to five years and Leeds Council anticipates losing 10 per cent of its 14,400-strong team.

Bradford Council expects a drop in numbers from 8,000 to 7,000 and Sheffield Council predicts it will lose 1,000 of its 14,000 staff.

Calderdale expects to lose more than 450 staff, Wakefield 400 and York 200. Council bosses in Barnsley, East Riding, Hull, Rotherham, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire refused to disclose estimates.

More than seven in 10 councils in England predict they will have to cut spending by between five per cent and 20 per cent over the next three to five years.

Tony Travers, director of the Greater London group at the London School of Economics, said: "Nothing like this has happened for a generation.

"To minimise the impacts on the public… would require massive efficiencies in all services, higher charges for many and sharing back-office staff with other public bodies."