CHESHIRE East Council (CEC) has announced plans to cut 1,000 jobs – roughly one fifth of its 5,500 strong workforce.

CEC said job losses over the next three years were necessary because of a reduction in Government grants.

The authority claims the move would give tax payers ‘better value for money’ by shrinking its £140 million wage bill.

They add their focus is on ‘reducing waste, duplication and bureaucracy, as well as cutting management overheads.’

Trade union, Unison, said they were ‘extremely worried about the scale of proposed redundancies.’

A spokesman for CEC said the council hope to mitigate against compulsory redundancies by ‘taking advantage of natural turnover, as people leave or retire.’

Changes would involve transferring staff to social enterprises, staff mutuals and arms-length companies owned by the council, as well as outsourcing some services to the voluntary and private sectors.

“We expect that in three years’ time, about 1,000 staff will be employed in these local businesses, and will be contributing to the growing strength of the Cheshire East economy,” said the spokesman.

Craig Nicholson, UNISON’s Cheshire East branch secretary, said the trade union had ‘grave concerns about the direction the council is heading in terms of the mass outsourcing of services, which we believe could lead to less responsive and more fragmented services.’

He added: “There is a wealth of evidence that the private sector over-promises and under-delivers in terms of providing quality public services.

“We believe that this will leada to reduced services to the people of Cheshire East. We are seeking urgent discussions with the council to try to minimise the numbers of jobs to be lost.”

Cheshire East Council Leader, clr Michael Jones said he was ‘proud of the quality and creative thinking of our staff. They do a fantastic job in difficult circumstances.’

He added the council would do ‘all we can to support our staff through these changes’ and that a ‘bold, but careful approach’ would prioritise protecting essential frontline jobs and services.