Front-line services safe in £6m ‘back office’ cuts

Malvern Gazette: It is only right supporting functions take the biggest hit, says finance boss It is only right supporting functions take the biggest hit, says finance boss

SPENDING on ‘back office’ functions at Worcestershire County Council is to be cut by £6 million in five years.

A study forecasts that £6.1 million will be slashed from 2011 to 2016 without any impact on front-line services.

It reveals how so far this year:

- Giving all new council staff weekly 35-hour contracts has saved £600,000.

- A scheme allowing staff to “buy” extra annual leave has saved more than £100,000.

- A controversial move to reduce sick pay, so the first two days are unpaid, has saved £500,000.

- Forcing all staff to take three extra days unpaid leave a year has saved £900,000.

- A crackdown on car allowances, so any staff deemed non-essential users cannot make a claim, has saved £500,000.

- Fewer repairs and less maintenance to buildings has saved £300,000.

In addition, 74 management posts have been axed over the last two financial years.

If the target of £6.1 million of savings can achieved by 2016, it will mean the county council’s entire ‘back office’ spend, including staffing, will reduce by 31 per cent.

The figures were debated during a meeting of the resources, overview and scrutiny panel.

Patrick Birch, the council’s finance director, said: “It is only right that the supporting functions of the council take a bigger hit than front- line services.

“In human resources, for example, we had 11 senior managers. It’s now down to eight and we’re going to take that down to six.”

Councillor John Campion, cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, said: “Support services need to be as lean as possible so we can support the day-to-day operations of this council.

“We have gone a long way, but there is more to do – it is the front-line services this council is in the business of providing.”

The savings will help form part of the £98 million the council needs to shed from its budgets by 2017 due to unprecedented reductions in Government funding.

Across the council there used to be nine layers of management, but that is being reduced to five.

The workforce is also being reduced by at least 600 jobs by 2017, taking it down to less than 3,000 for the first time.


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