AROUND 1,500 jobs are to be axed at Worcestershire County Council by 2018, it has emerged.

A new, four-year plan to shrink the cash-strapped authority by handing over some services to outside bodies has been revealed, with the Conservative leadership saying it expects to have 2,000 in-house workers by April, 2018.

The change is being driven by the need to slash budgets by around £100 million and focus on the county’s ageing demographic. It follows several previous rounds of job cuts since 2011 which has seen County Hall’s workforce already shrink by around 800.

The leadership is banking on many of the staff transferring to new employers, minimising some of the impact on the economy, and insists it needs to adapt the way it operates to survive.

But the opposition Labour group has called it “outrageous” and wants a review into the funding the council gets from central Government.

The changes are part of a new operating model called Futurefit aimed at handing services to outside bodies, a tactic known as commissioning. Vital services like adult and children’s social care will stay in-house, as will some business and environmental functions, while roads maintenance is staying with Ringway, which has just agreed a new contract to 2020.

But everything else is up for grabs, with the council acting as a contract manager.

Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, said: “We’ve already been changing they way we operate in an evolving way, but we need to more agile and work towards a strategy of becoming a commissioning body.

"I’ve been to seven staff roadshows where this has been quite the topic of debate.

"There are always concerns with change but we’ve looked at models across the country in the process of getting to this.

"I realise it’ll be quite a change for staff – but if you work for Jaguar Land Rover you need to change your skills every seven years.

“The staff will have to develop their commercial acumen, negotiating skills and contract management.”

Councillor Peter McDonald, Labour group leader, said: “He uses this silly example of Jaguar Land Rover, they build luxury cars.

“If the car breaks down you can go elsewhere. Our services are not a luxury, but a necessity.”

The new operating model will go to a vote of the entire county council on May 15.