A trade union has warned that tens of thousands of jobs are set to go at local authorities across the UK over the next few months and questioned the ability of the private sector to fill the gap.

Figures published by the GMB this week asserted that the total of number of roles which have either already been cut or remain under threat had topped 150,059 at 260 councils, with most seeking voluntary redundancy and early retirement.

“The figure for jobs under threat in the public sector keeps going up,” said the union’s general secretary Paul Kelly. “There are additional job losses in the voluntary sector funded by public sector grants and in the outsourced private sector.”

He claimed that some of the most vulnerable members of society have been placed at risk by the coalition’s austerity programme and suggested cutting too fast could damage confidence in the private sector recovery.

Last week, Blackpool Council announced that it was planning to issue 400 compulsory redundancies and invite applications for an unspecified number of voluntary job losses to cover budget cuts of £27 million.

Posted by Ross George