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Southampton City Council leaders branded 'dishonest' over job loss plans
Southampton City Council bosses have come under fire over plans to axe jobs just two months after coming to power.
The Tories have accused Labour leaders of being “dishonest” and duping voters by breaking their manifesto promise of protecting staff.
The council has tonight revealed a mini-budget, detailing the scale of the job losses.
Councillor Simon Letts, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “We inherited a very difficult budget position and need to take some very hard decisions in the coming months.
"Today’s proposals start that process and allow us to make some savings in the current financial year.
"These will also help reduce the savings required for next year’s budget.
“We are committed to working with our staff in this challenging context and will pilot a new redeployment model that aims to keep people in work, retraining where possible and seeking to avoid major redundancy costs.
“As difficult as things are, it is vital that we also ensure we are spending appropriately on the important things.
"By allocating some modest amounts on really important issues like community safety and support for small businesses and job-seekers we are confident we can start to make a big difference in areas that matter to Southampton residents.”
Overall the interim budget will see 20 full time jobs under threat as part of a raft of cuts aimed at saving the authority £800,000.
This including closing the Oaklands Swimming Pool in Lordshill.
The proposals also include hikes in adult disablity care charges, ditching the free council magazine and reviewing reception duties and the senior town management role.
But Conservative opposition leader Royston Smith believes Labour have gone back on their promise to protect jobs, something which his council knew was “impossible” on top of reversing pay cuts, which Labour have vowed to do in April.
He said: “We were honest, they have been dishonest.
“They said they would give staff their pay back at the same time as protecting them from redundancy but that was an impossible promise to make and it was really unfair promise to make to people when some people know that it could not be delivered.”
“All the things they promised are just not true. Staff have been through a really difficult time with us but we were always honest with them.
“Labour has duped the staff who had believed them.”
Using a model first implemented in Sunderland, the council will continue to pay the staff who lose their jobs for eight months under a redeployment scheme.
The hope is they will be able to find a new job within the council as they become available due to natural wastage such as retirement.
This will prevent the authority having to pay out redundancy packages to affected workers.
Overall, it is hoped the interim budget will save the authority £2.8m.
In total, Southampton City Council needs to make savings of £65m over the next two years to close the budget deficit.