AROUND 500 posts are expected to go at Dorset County Council in the next financial year as the authority revealed plans to cut spending by £27million.

The predicted number of redundancies was set out in a report that put forward some of the stringent saving measures outlined by the authority as it seeks to address a cut in Government funding.

The council will have to save between £48-£50million in total over three years.

Other new areas identified as facing cuts included a reduction in the number of day centres and the withdrawal of council funding to more than half of the council’s libraries.

As council leaders explained the measures in the report, which will go before the council’s cabinet next Wednesday, union chiefs described the level of job losses proposed as ‘horrific.’ A council insider also spoke of his shock. The employee, who works in the Adult and Social Care department, said: “It’s horrendous news. We knew that cuts were coming but to hear that 500 staff will go is absurd.

“In our department we weren’t even told in person – it was just posted on the Intranet.

“Everybody is concerned and having already gone through one round of cost-saving measures people are really upset.”

Deputy chief executive Elaine Taylor said that the council, which employs 9,761 full time equivalent staff, was currently looking at losing around 500 posts in 2011/12.

She said: “Redundancies are clearly something that we need to be thinking about. Fifty per cent of our budget currently goes on staff pay-related matters.”

Mrs Taylor said there was likely to be both voluntary and compulsory redundancies, but the council would not be canvassing staff across all services to see who would opt for voluntary as the posts removed would be more targeted. She said: “We are not prepared to weaken our structures by just taking offers for voluntary redundancy, through that we have no control about where the redundancies would fall.”

Mrs Taylor said all posts from senior management down could be affected and the estimated figure did not necessarily relate to the loss of 500 jobs as some staff would be redeployed and some of the reduction in posts would be achieved by not filling vacancies.

Council leader Angus Campbell admitted that there was likely to be more redundancies after the next financial year but at this stage the authority did not currently have an estimate as to how many there would be.

He added that the council ‘regretted’ any loss of jobs and cuts to services but stressed it was facing unprecedented times.

He said: “Our main priority is protect the vulnerable as much as possible.”

Chief financial officer Paul Kent said the exact scale of the cuts the council faced was not yet confirmed, as it was yet to be informed of the grant it would receive from the Government.

Mr Kent said the council was working on a reduction of around 28 per cent in the Government grant.

He added: “We need to find £48million to £50million over the next three years in order to make sure we balance the books.”

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