Middle managers at council face axe

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A CULL of middle managers at the city council will see at least 300 senior posts being axed in the latest measure aimed at tackling the growing cash crisis.

All of the city council's 20,000 employees were set to be told today of the job losses, which would save 16 million over the next three years.

The cuts have been drawn up by council officials as a first step towards easing the "black hole" in the council's finances, which has been estimated at 90m over the next three years but officials say could grow.

A separate report published today has also revealed that two council departments are to be merged, resulting in another 21 job losses.

The merger of the payroll and human resources department is expected to save 550,000 a year. The announcements will lead to the first-ever redundancies in the 15-year history of the city council.

Council leader Jenny Dawe said: "The harsh reality of the UK budget deficit requires us to confront some very difficult decisions. We recognise just how concerning this is for staff and we will critically examine the proposals received. We will do all we can to support staff and to protect the valued and vital services they deliver."

Some of the job losses could go through before next April, although most are expected in the 2011/12 financial year.

Council chiefs say they will consider leaving vacancies unfilled, reducing temporary staff, redeployment of staff, early retirement and voluntary redundancies, but admit that compulsory redundancies may be necessary.

The proposals were being announced today months ahead of the time of year that council officials' budget proposals are usually unveiled.

As well as a briefing being circulated around staff today, a series of meetings were due to take place with trade unions and opposition councillors about the proposals.

Meanwhile, the announcement of the merger of the payroll department, based at Waverley Court, and human resources, based at Chesser House, was contained in a report for next week's finance committee meeting.

Six management posts across the two departments will go by the end of this year, saving an annual total of 260,000.

A further 15 redundancies are also planned among payroll administrators and customer assistants under a later stage of the merger, which will provide a further 300,000 of savings.

Councillor Phil Wheeler, the city's finance leader, said: "This is a perfect example of the kind of change we need to make to move forward. Working smarter is something we must all do now to provide extra value for money."