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BBC survey confirms what we revealed on 21 December

(March 07, 2010)

ON 21 December we made public the details of some sensitive documents we had seen revealing that five per cent year on year cuts to government grants are being drawn up - NOW the BBC has undertaken a survey which confirms our worst fears. READ ON

What we said

'SAVAGE cuts to many important local services could be in the offing from 2011 - the news has emerged after VisionforWarminster was given access to some sensitive documents.
These show that some senior local government number crunchers are working on the assumption that central government grant is expected to be cut by five per cent year on year for three years from 2011 - whichever party wins the next general election.'


At least 25,000 council jobs in England will be under threat in the next three to five years, says a ‘BBC English Regions’ survey published today (1 March).

The forecast is based on answers from 49 councils (including Wiltshire Council) with a combined workforce of just over 256,000.

Tony Travers, director of the Greater London group at the London School of Economics, told the BBC: “The scale of job reductions … suggests tens of thousands of posts are likely to be lost… it seems likely there will be a sharp cut in council jobs in 2010 and for some years after.”

Many of the councils which responded to the BBC survey were reluctant to forecast job losses. But eight authorities - Kirklees, Leeds, City of Bradford, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Surrey - said 1,000 or more posts might have to go within five years.

****The survey also revealed more than 70 per cent predict they will have to cut spending by between 5 per cent and 20 per cent over the next three to five years.***** 

"Nothing like this has happened for a generation,” continued Mr Travers, “to minimise the impacts on the public… would require massive efficiencies in all services, higher charges for many and sharing back-office staff with other public bodies."

The councils in the survey have continued to budget for increased revenue spending (ie on running costs rather than capital projects) in the year from April 2010 with an average increase of 2.5%.

But that represents a sharp drop on the average rise of 5.3% in 2008/09.
Asked to forecast the impact on spending in the next three to five years, almost all who responded said they expected budget cuts.

Of the 62 councils which offered a view on which services would be most vulnerable; libraries, the arts and leisure were identified as being most at risk. Services for the homeless, children's social services and planning were more likely to be protected.

‘BBC English Regions’ also asked whether councils were exploring innovative ways of saving money in the way that services are delivered. Almost all the councils which responded planned to share services with other parts of the public sector.

96 per cent said they were planning to share services with other public sector bodies, such as health trusts, schools, voluntary organisations or other councils.  

The survey was sent to 150 county and unitary councils and metropolitan and London boroughs. District councils were excluded.

Ninety three responded, giving an overall response rate of 62%, although a lower number chose to answer certain questions.

Facing the Cuts, a BBC Local Radio exclusive, will host a ‘national conversation’ about difficult spending choices faced by town, county and city halls. Every local radio station in England will be hosting a live debate at 1000 GMT on Monday (1 March).  Local Radio station details can be found at

Specially commissioned BBC local reporters are working across England today (1 March) to drill down further into the impact of public sector cuts and to get the reaction of people across the country. Their findings will be broadcast on local radio, local websites and regional television throughout the day.

An on-line interactive map providing an on-going local information source and the full survey results will both be available at (live from 6 a.m. March 1).

This is the first time BBC English Regions has brought together its local radio, regional television and on-line services to deliver an editorial campaign simultaneously on the same day. 

David Holdsworth Controller English Regions explains: "Public sector cuts will start to bite soon and affect all our lives which makes this is an important and developing story for local communities.  With a nationwide network of local radio stations, local websites, regional TV news programmes and special reporters, BBC English Regions is uniquely placed to enable a detailed debate at grassroots level about an issue of intense interest to our audience.”

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