THE homeless, elderly and vulnerable will be hit by the loss of 60 jobs at Southend Council’s housing service, a union has claimed.

Unison says Southend Council’s plans to axe 60 jobs at South Essex Homes, which manages its housing stock, will affect the most vulnerable.

Three of eight managers at homeless hostels are under threat, despite the number of people on the streets rising.

Four jobs at South Essex Homes’ sheltered housing are also set to go, as mobile working is introduced, despite Southend’s ageing population.

A South Essex Homes staff member, who asked not to be named, said: “Helping people to keep well and independent is a major part of our work.

“Becoming mobile workers without a set group of residents has the potential to lose out on building those relationships.

“Cuts in jobs are not going to make this service better.”

Placements within homeless hostels have increased year-onyear, from 187 in 2011 to 218 last year.

Hostel staff give homeless people support and guidance to help them get back on their feet, as well as providing a bed for the night.

Claire Wormald, secretary of the local government branch of Southend Unison, said: “Cutting hostel managers from eight to five will have an impact on this support and is exceptionally short-sighted, given the expected increase in homelessness.”

Another 45 posts are set to go at the council, as the Conservative administration struggles to balance the books in the face of a £7.6million cut in Government funding.

Volunteers will replace paid, trained librarians at four branch libraries and the council’s last two care homes, Priory House, in Southend, and Delaware House, in Shoebury, are also set to close.

Calling for a rise in council tax to prevent job losses, Ms Wormald said: “The recent floods have shown that when you start to hollow out a service year after year with ‘efficiencies’, and then these services are suddenly tested, the gaps are exposed – such is the experience with the Environment Agency.”

Councillors will vote on the budget proposals at a meeting held in public at the Civic Centre on Thursday, February 27.