JOB cuts are “not inevitable”, according to a leading councillor.
Green leader Clr Andrew Cooper believes Kirklees Council may be able to make enough savings without handing out any redundancy notices.
Yesterday he said: “I don’t think it’s inevitable at all that there will have to be job losses.”
Clr Cooper believes cutting the working week from 37 hours to 35 hours would make significant savings. The move would mean all council workers losing around 5% of their wage.
But it would be the equivalent of reducing the council’s 11,000-strong workforce by 594.
Clr Cooper said: “We need to have a huge culture shift to make sure that households don’t lose a breadwinner. Switching to a 35-hour week would save millions.”
The Newsome councillor has asked Kirklees officers to investigate the idea. He said: “We would have to make sure we retain the same level of service with a 35-hour week, because it’s a loss of 25 minutes of work a day.”
Clr Cooper – who served in the Cabinet from 2002 to 2006 – added that other parts of the budget could be cut to make modest savings.
He said: “There’s a hospitality budget of £2,000 a year which is spent on councillors’ Christmas parties. The Green Party never claims its £100.
“We could insulate council buildings more to save money on heating and do more about street lights that are on during the day.”
However, Conservative leader Clr Jim Dodds believes there will have to be redundancies.
Yesterday he said: “I think job cuts are probably inevitable but it’s difficult to put a figure on it until we know how much Kirklees will get from central government next year.”
Clr Dodds added that his party was looking for efficiencies.
The Denby Dale man said: “The last thing we want to do is make job cuts so we will be looking at ways of making efficiency savings. We don’t want to attack the frontline services looking after vulnerable people but we have to look at how services are provided.”
Meanwhile, new figures show the council’s income is dropping because of the recession.
Kirklees is facing a £2.5m shortfall this year in money from car parks, planning fees and council tax.
Human resources director Cliff Stewart said: “For obvious reasons, our income is dropping and we anticipate that this will continue next year.
“It’s an extra pressure on the budget, along with the increase in costs for the care of vulnerable adults and looked-after children.”