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Around 1,000 jobs could go at Somerset Council amid ‘financial emergency’

MORE than 1,000 Somerset Council workers could lose their job as the authority tries to avoid bankruptcy.

Facing a £100 million budget shortfall, the council’s Executive today (February 7) debated the draft 2024/25 budget – which includes a raft of cuts and changes in a bid to save money.

Among the proposals is the “transformation” of the council, which will need to find new ways of working, and the reduction of between 20% and 26% of the workforce.

Somerset Council employs more than 5,000 people, meaning 1,000 jobs would be lost with a 20% reduction in staff numbers.

Councillor Theo Butt Philip (Lib Dem, Wells), the lead member for transformation and human resources, told the meeting the changes would “reduce the scale of this organisation”.

“It will be a smaller leaner organisation, with fewer offices and fewer staff,” he said. “We will have to work in very different ways. Some of that has begun through the devolution process … but there is still an enormous amount to be done, working across Somerset Council as one organisation.”

He said a voluntary redundancy scheme would launch consultations on February 9 and that the challenge facing the council would bring “change on a scale I don’t think many of us have ever seen”.

“A reduction between 20% and 26% (of staff) is a radical change in what Somerset Council is and how Somerset Council will have to work,” he added.

“It is necessary we make changes of this scale so we are able to have a sustainable council going forward. A council that can deliver the services our residents need.”

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The meeting came after a plan to increase council tax by 10% in Somerset to raise an extra £17m was rejected by the Government.

A ‘capitalisation direction’ has also been requested from the Government, allowing the council to borrow money or sell assets to cover the costs of running costs.

However, a number of roles would be exempt from the redundancy scheme.

Somerset Council jobs not at risk of redundancy:

1. Social workers
2. Senior Social Work Assistants
3. Engineers
4. Spatial planners and development management professionals
5. Lawyers
6. Occupational therapists (registered, qualified professionals)
7. Adults Social Care Practitioner
8. Health Visitors (registered, qualified professionals)
9. School nurses (registered, qualified professionals)
10. Family Intervention workers (Childrens)
11. All 100% HRA funded posts
12. All 100% externally Grant funded posts
13. Estates and building surveyors
14. Advanced Mental Health Practitioners (Adults – Social worker / OT qualified)
15. Building control surveyors
16. Ecologists

The proposals, agreed by the Executive, will now go before the full Somerset Council on February 20. For more details, and to read the full reports, visit www.somerset.gov.uk.

One Comment

  1. Nemisis Benn Reply

    My two pennyworth is that all diversity, inclusion and other staff with “woke” responsibilities should be made redundant immediately. Also, after the way that the clowns in SSDC handled redundancy for the so-called transformation project, all redundancy payments must be legal minimum only, no enhancements at all. A good way to choose who goes and who stays is to make a whole department redundant and staff must apply to keep their jobs.

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