STAFF morale at Worcestershire County Council is said to be 'at an all time low', after it was announced 200 jobs are set to be axed.

AS many as 200 jobs are set to be slashed at the council after an email was sent by chief executive Paul Robinson asking the authority's 2,800 employees if they want to take voluntary redundancy.

Cllr Chris Bloore, ward member for Bromsgrove South, attended a meeting at County Hall on October 18, when the cuts were first announced.

He said: "It was quite a surreal experience, and really worrying for those people involved.

"What shook me is that the people who end up staying will have to pick up the slack and they won't get any compensation.

"This is 200 jobs on top of the thousands that have been cut already over the years. It's impossible for this not to have an effect on frontline services."

Staff have until November 12 to take up the offer of voluntary redundancy as the council looks to save almost £18m by March.

The council is also offering staff a ‘buy one hour get one free’ for additional leave over Christmas and New Year as well as proposing all non-frontline agency staff take a break during December in a bid to save more money.

Frontline council workers – including children’s social workers – have been told they cannot apply for voluntary redundancy.

Cllr Bloore added: "I've sat down with a few members of staff since the announcement and they're completely demoralised. Morale is at an all time low.

"For them, it seems there's no red line on how far these cuts can go.

"Over the last seven or eight years they've had their wages frozen, sick leave taken off them, have been asked to do more work, work longer, and all at the same time when political leaders have upped their pay by double figures."

Jim Price, secretary of Worcestershire's Unison branch, said a lot of staff feel it is a “sign of panic” by the council.

A spokesman for Worcestershire County Council said: "We have announced a voluntary redundancy scheme to help us to address a projected in-year overspend of £5m.

"The scheme will operate on the basis of staff having an opportunity to apply for voluntary redundancy.

"The deadline for applications is the November 12, 2018. Where approved employees who apply for voluntary redundancy will leave the council before March 31, 2019.

"A number of roles are exempt including children's social workers.

"It is expected that up to 200 full time equivalent staff will leave the council as part of the scheme, which we have discussed with our recognised trade unions."