Hundreds of Flintshire Council jobs face the chop

Reporter:

Lois Hough

THE axe could fall on hundreds of Flintshire Council jobs if an under-threat grant is abolished.

Workers, whose salaries are funded by the Welsh Assembly’s Cymorth grant, have been put on 90-day consultation while the grant’s fate is decided. It is understood hundreds of jobs could be at risk.

The funding provides a network of support for children and young people from disadvantaged families and is used to train staff at summer playschemes and Sure Start centres.

It is not certain whether funding will be reduced or scrapped altogether, but a decision by WAG is expected in March.

Council staff say they are fed-up with being kept in the dark.

One worker, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Leader: “It's an appalling situation and nobody seems able to make a decision.

“They were supposed to tell us in December what was happening with our jobs, but yesterday we got a letter saying they weren’t making any decisions until March.”

Local authorities were given indicative Cymorth budgets in December and were asked to begin planning their Cymorth-funded activity in 2011-12 based on these funding levels.

Flintshire Council submitted its plans in January which are currently being considered by WAG.

A WAG spokesman said the final allocations will be issued shortly.

Cllr Carol Ellis, executive member for social services, said she can sympathise with staff.

“Most funding from WAG is year on year so there is always that level of uncertainty,” she said.

“We have been working hard on the budget as everybody knows and it doesn’t help when you get to this stage and there is still uncertainty.”

Treuddyn councillor Carolyn Thomas added: “We were promised we would hear something by the middle of February.

“We are relying on WAG and we have to push and push.”

Chief executive Colin Everett told a meeting of the corporate resources scrutiny committee that he was looking into a ‘Plan B’ in case the funding was axed.

A Flintshire Council spokesman added: “We are still awaiting confirmation from WAG about the continuation of a number of grants, including Cymorth.

“Our understanding is this will now be in March.”

The spokesman confirmed staff were under consulation, but was unable to confirm how many jobs were at risk.

Helen Stappleton, Head of Human Resources said: “In October, we commenced a period of collective consultation with employees who were potentially at risk of redundancy, either as a result of proposals for reviewing services or because their jobs were funded by external specific grants, which were yet to be confirmed beyond March 31 2011.

“In taking this action, we were complying with statutory requirements given that we had 100 or more potential redundancies in one phase and were ensuring that we protected the interests of both the postholders and the Council.

“Whilst we were hoping that many grants would continue, we knew that this was going to be a challenging year financially, with the future of specific Government funding commitments being under review.”

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