UNION leaders have raised fears that more than 1,000 jobs at Wakefield Council could be at risk as the local authority presses ahead with plans to contract out some services to the private sector.
The council – which has to make savings of £152m by 2017/18 due to government funding cuts – is reviewing how it provides building services, facilities management, property and asset management, building cleaning, school meals and build-related architectural design services.
Council chiefs committed to carrying out a review of the services last October and are inviting tenders for a single partner to provide them.
Kevin Osborne, regional Unison officer, said: “These services are now the subject of a procurement process and the council has already discounted any in-house bid. In advance of contracting out these services to the private sector, they are undertaking a review which affects around 1,600 staff whose jobs are potentially at risk as a result of this exercise.”
Mr Osborne added: “Unison is certainly not convinced that contracting out to the private sector will save money. Unison will do all it can in working with our members to defend against any compulsory job losses and to continue to argue the case for the continued in-house service provison.”
Judith Badger, Wakefield Council’s director of finance, property and resources said: “The review affects around 1,400 colleagues, and we believe that this is the best way to protect jobs – not put them at risk. The scale of the savings we have to find means we must change the way we deliver some of our services if we are to try and protect these jobs. Securing an external partner is the best way we have of doing this.
“We are currently reviewing the in-house service delivery model and will be making changes to this in the short term. We do not believe that these internal changes will deliver the overall scale of savings that are required.”