Kirklees Council could make up to 750 redundancies as it faces a £47 million black hole in its budget.
The cost-of-living crisis and economic shocks over the last 18 months cost the council an extra £27 million last year.
But the current financial year is set to be even worse and the council needs to save £47 million, which could mean hundreds of staff losing their jobs.
The council’s outgoing chief executive Jacqui Gedman issued the stark warning in an email to staff saying there were tough times ahead.
The council is about to issue what’s known as a HR1 notice to trade unions, a legal requirement if an organisation is going to make at least 20 redundancies.
The figure the council has put on its potential redundancies is 750, though it says it may not be as high as that.
The email says: “The HR1 form will be submitted by the end of July and the number of redundancies within the HR1 will be listed as 750.
“It is important to understand that this does not mean that there will definitely be 750 roles made redundant.
“It means that, based on current budget proposals for 2023/24 and 2024/25, this is a number we feel is appropriate given the financial pressures we face.
“At this stage we do not have a full breakdown of the directorates and roles impacted or the timings and we will, of course, be working with Trade Union colleagues to do everything we can to avoid and reduce compulsory redundancies.
“A council wide programme of voluntary redundancy is not being considered as we try to balance the delivery of key services, skills required for the future and affordability.”
The council imposed a recruitment freeze, mothballed offices and is selling off surplus buildings. Last year it was reported the council spent almost £12 million alone on heating and lighting council buildings, schools and leisure centres.
Ms Gedman, who has announced her retirement from the council, said budget savings and cash reserves had helped shore up last year’s budget but she told staff: “I need to be open with you, the challenges for the next financial year are more severe.
“Our current projections show that the council needs to make further savings of around £47 million to achieve a balanced budget next year. That’s roughly 13% of our overall net day-to-day spending.
“Together, we’ve already taken action to reduce our costs and bring our budget into balance. Recruitment to many posts has been frozen, we’ve made progress on using our buildings more efficiently and we’ve stopped many kinds of expenditure that aren’t absolutely essential.
“I want to thank everyone who has already contributed to those efforts. They have not been easy for many of you. But if we are going to set a balanced budget for the next financial year, we need to make further savings across the organisation.
“Over the coming months, we will be bringing forward proposals to achieve the savings we need to make. That will mean changes to some services, new ways of bringing in income to the council and measures that prioritise our activities even further.
“But the scale of the challenge means that some jobs will be affected.
“I understand that this is unsettling news but it’s important to be as open and honest as possible. As ever, I know that you’ll continue to support each other with the kindness and care that you always do.”
A council spokesman said: “The cost-of-living crisis and ongoing economic challenges have put pressure on council budgets across the country.
“We are already reducing costs across the council but we know further savings will be required over the coming months. Publishing an HR1 notice is an early signal that we will need to make redundancies if we are going to deliver our legal obligation to set a balanced budget for the next financial year.
“Our focus will be to try and avoid or reduce the number of compulsory redundancies and support our staff through the changes. We will balance that aim with our delivery of key services and ensuring we retain the skills we require to continue to deliver the best services for Kirklees residents.”