Spending review - Leader writes to staff
Published: Thursday 14th October 10
Council leader Edward Lister has written today to council staff following last night's meeting of the General Purposes Committee which approved changes to staff terms and conditions.
The letter sets out the challenging financial circumstances facing the council which will become clearer next week when the Coalition Government reports on its Comprehensive Spending Review.
Cllr Lister praises staff for their contribution to the council's achievements and says he will continue to be open about the changes facing the authority.
The full text of the letter appears here:
I am sure that all employees of the Council must be aware of the huge financial pressures facing the public sector as a result of the need to reduce the national budget deficit.
To keep you all informed, the Chief Executive set out the challenges facing the Council in a staff notice in July. In this he spelt out the steps that were already being taken to bear down on the Council's costs and the actions that would be necessary in the weeks and months ahead.
As I write today the Council is geared to achieving savings of £55m over a four-year period. This is based on the Coalition Government's announcements earlier in the year that local government could expect cuts in the region of 25 per cent. I have to say this situation could change when we see the results of the Spending Review and in particular the effects on local government.
The Council faces very difficult challenges to achieve these savings because our services are renowned for their excellence and value for money. We already have an exceptionally efficient workforce with lower staffing ratios than most other London boroughs and the main reason that we have been able to achieve so much with these resources is down to the motivation and commitment of our staff.
Unfortunately, achieving the level of savings required will inevitably lead to the Council having to manage with reduced services and fewer staff. I know many of you are concerned at the prospect of changes in your area of work and the risk of job losses. I believe it is my duty to be completely open with you about those risks. The Council will try to protect front line services but the scale of the savings required will mean that we cannot continue to operate as before. However we are committed to working with staff and their representatives to find new ways of delivering services while trying to limit job losses as far as possible.
You will be aware that as part of this process we have begun reviewing staff terms and conditions. This is vital if we are to limit the numbers of job losses, although I appreciate it is not a popular move. The General Purposes Committee last night approved changes to occupational sick pay, overtime rates, car parking and allowances, salary supplements and redundancy arrangements. We have already been operating a partial recruitment freeze for the past three months with the aim of keeping posts vacant to provide redeployment opportunities where possible.
In areas like sickness absence these changes bring us more into line with other employers and the private sector. Other local authorities are also reviewing their practices here as they too try to hold down costs at the same time as trying to minimise job losses.
Despite these pressures, as well as the changes I have outlined above, the Council remains a good employer that values its staff and offers conditions of service substantially above those enjoyed by most private sector employees. We could not have achieved what we have without your support, which all members of the Council appreciate, and I am determined that we will continue to maintain our reputation for excellence.
Although I cannot provide all of the assurances that I know you would like I will continue to be open with you about the Council's response to the unprecedented financial circumstances we all face.
Leader of the Council