The New Year will have started on a rather less than cheerful note for many public sector employees as local authorities prepare to reveal the full extent of jobs and local services cuts.
Tens of thousands of "at risk" notices have already hit doormats across the country, warning council staff their jobs are under threat. But union officials say they are expecting a fresh wave to arrive over the next two weeks as some of the country's biggest authorities – including several London boroughs – outline their plans.
The imminent cuts will be an early sign of the government's austerity. 111 councils have already issued forms that set out upper estimates of the numbers of staff they expect to have to make redundant, informing 90,000 employees that their jobs are now at risk. The remaining authorities are expected to follow suit in the next two weeks.
The coalition has argued that private sector job creation will offset job losses in the public sector and before Christmas local government minister Grant Shapps accused trade unions of "ramping up" stories about job cuts in local authorities for political gain.
Council chiefs must reduce posts by 31 March in order to start making savings in their new reduced budgets. By law they have to give staff 90 days' notice period to staff, meaning a nominal New Year's Day notification. However, the announcement of the local government settlement was delayed earlier this month and many councils who have yet to issue "at risk" letters are now expected to buy out employees notice period in order to meet the March deadline.
Sadly many people are bout to taste the realities if the government’s slash and burn approach to the public sector. What the Tories and their Lib Dem human shields have put into mtion goes far beyond what is needed to reduce deficits. This is more an ideological crusade against the public sector; unemployment rates are merely a side issue.