OPPOSITION councillors have criticised a “secret” plan for 200 job cuts at a Yorkshire council, where 1,000 posts were axed last year.
The Labour administration at Hull Council says voluntary redundancy will be offered to workers in its business support section as part of plans by consulting giant Deloitte to save £5.7m. Deloitte is being paid £330,000 to help achieve the council’s vision of “to replace a largely paper-driven bureaucracy with a more focused, modern and efficient business model.”
A report leaked to the Yorkshire Post says hundreds of posts in payroll, HR, IT and finance, have been “benchmarked”, and savings of up to 30 per cent could be made, and 20 per cent in other areas. Saving £5.7m, “would impact approximately around 240 staff, which equates to 150 to 190 full-time equivalents.”
It says the authority, which has to save £8m next year, and £24m the year after, has to tackle ageing and under-utilised technology and “high” levels of duplicate entry.
Opposition Lib Dem councillors have criticised the way in which the plans were approved, with council leader Steve Brady signing off a decision record to pay Deloitte, with no mention of the redundancies.
The plan forsees all finance, HR and IT, being conducted from a new “integrated business centre, with managers “required to self-serve and to undertake activities that previously would have been undertaken by a support function.” It estimates that £4.7m could be saved over the next financial year and £1m the following, with the programme costing up to £1.5m - a figure that includes cover for the 33 staff working on the scheme and honorariums for those “backfilling” a higher grade.
But it doesn’t include the cost of redundancies or upgrading IT systems - which could run into millions.
Lib Dem councillor Mike Ross said the decision had been “snuck out on a piece of paper.” He said: “It’s just one hypocrisy after another at the moment from Hull Labour. Here is a party elected on an anti-redundancy platform, in secret and without consulting the public or opposition councillors, signing up to a plan to spend hundreds of thousands on expensive consultants whilst axing 240 jobs.”
But Coun Phil Webster, Labour’s portfolio holder for finance, said if they did nothing the council would go into “meltdown”. He defended the use of consultants, saying Deloitte has successfully implemented plans at Kirklees and Lancashire councils.
He said: “Doing nothing is not an option. We have got a coherent plan that will make these savings and which will not affect front line services. The only way you can save money is jobs, that’s the harsh reality. No one is going to be forced out of the door - the plan at the moment is to offer a round of the voluntary early termination scheme.”