A scheme which lets staff apply for voluntary severance is to be launched this week at Bristol City Council. The authority expects to reduce its number of full-time roles by approximately 1,000 to contribute towards closing a remaining budget gap of around £29m this year.
Today (Monday 22 August) the council informed staff and filed a formal Section 188 Notice with trade unions, providing official notice of the potential job losses and launching a period of formal consultation. It is part of an ongoing major financial challenge caused by the rising cost and demand for local services whilst government funding declines.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol said: “I have inherited a huge financial challenge which is proving bigger than we knew even a month or two ago. We continue to make savings in many ways, but we cannot close the gap without reducing the number of jobs at the council.
“This scheme is about giving people the option to leave voluntarily, which is the right thing to do. We will support staff as best we can throughout this difficult time.
“I am acutely aware that this process, whilst necessary, will inevitably place more restrictions on what we can achieve and what services we provide. My priority remains making Bristol a more equal and inclusive city where no-one is left behind. This means keeping my promises to the Bristol public, maintaining our life-and-limb services and doing all I can to improve people’s lives with the resources I’ve got. To do this we will continue to improve the way we work with partners, looking at more opportunities to collaborate and fully understand how our budget pressures and decisions affect each other.”
Cllr Craig Cheney, Cabinet Member for Finance and Governance added: “This process is about fixing our financial foundations as we continue to plan for the longer term to put our resources where they are most needed. Budget proposals for next year and our new financial strategy will be consulted upon later in the year. We’re currently looking at every option alongside the priorities shared by people who have used our online budget simulator tool.
“Today marks the first really tough choice which has to be made given the financial position we inherited following years of burdens being placed on local government by the austerity measures of central government. Sadly there will be more tough choices ahead and we will continue to involve the city in meaningful discussion about how we face these challenges.”
Any staff leaving voluntarily will finish work by the end of September. Further plans for the council’s budget from April 2017 – April 2020 will be published in the autumn for public consultation ahead of a new Medium Term Financial Plan being put to Full Council in February 2017.