A SENIOR councillor has predicted that 2,000 council staff will lose their jobs.
Kirklees Council plans to reduce its workforce by 1,500 to cope with an expected 20% cut in Government spending.
However, Clr Robert Light warned yesterday that the actual figure would be 2,000.
The former council leader said: “The instruction from the present Government is to expect a 5% budget cut each year between 2011 and 2015. This is not a three-year process, it’s a four-year process which will push the number of redundancies up to 2,000.”
In January Kirklees wrote to all 11,200 of its non-school staff asking them to consider taking voluntary redundancy or early retirement. It is believed that 1,000 workers have already expressed an interest.
The council also plans to reduce its senior management team from 36 to 23.
But Clr Light – who led the council from 2006 to 2009 – believes Kirklees should be cutting from the middle, rather than the bottom or the top.
The Conservative said: “There’s no doubt that employee costs are the largest costs in the council, but it’s a question of where the cuts should come.
“It’s middle management where the issues lie and that’s not being addressed. We need to knock out tiers of management but the council is not grasping the issue. There needs to be a proper analysis of each department to see how many layers of management there are.”
Clr Light said Kirklees should follow the example of other councils that had reduced their middle management.
He said: “Other authorities have found they had anywhere between four and 14 layers of management. Oldham Council have been very good at looking at their layers of management and they have worked over the last three years to take those layers out.”
Clr Light added that the cuts programme was already hitting essential services.
The Birstall and Birkenshaw man said: “We seem to be decimating departments like Culture and Leisure and Highways – the kind of staff whose work makes a big impact on the lives of people in Kirklees.”
The council’s Labour Cabinet aims to cut the budget by 20% to deal with the public spending squeeze, which is expected regardless of which party wins this year’s general election.
Other councils in the area are also preparing for cuts. This week, Leeds City Council leader Clr Richard Brett announced that 300 jobs would go in the next year.
He said: “Resources are so tight in the current climate that simply keeping our frontline services going is a major challenge.”