UP TO 1,200 jobs could go at Edinburgh City Council as part of plans to make £138 million savings. The council, which employs about 18,500 staff, aims to address a budget gap of £67m over the next three years and has announced a reorganisation of the way it operates.
It has agreed a pledge of no compulsory redundancies and said most jobs will go through natural turnover or staff being redeployed elsewhere. The council’s current annual staff turnover stands at 8 per cent.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
The council said the reorganisation is designed to make its services more efficient and customer focused, as well as addressing the budget gap. Union leaders have branded the plans a “bodyblow to workers” who have been struggling to maintain frontline services despite “cut after cut”.
John Stevenson of Unison said: “Dressing this up as new ways of working cannot disguise the reality of cuts to frontline jobs and services. Unison will hold the council to its no compulsory redundancy pledge. In many areas where people directly serve the public we are seeing increased levels of stress. A further 1,200 job losses will only make this worse as people are again asked to do more with less.”
He added: “The report is riddled with assumptions, hopes and ambitions but precious little evidence. Unison is also concerned that the report leaves the door open for back-door privatisation and hints at challenging the council’s no compulsory redundancy pledge.”
Entitled Bold (Better Outcomes Through Leaner Delivery), the council’s “transformation” programme has been drawn up by chief executive Sue Bruce. Her vision, which will be viewed with interest by other cash-strapped local authorities, is to move towards a “self-service” approach for dealing with the public, with the reporting of complaints and issues processed online.
Senior council sources have revealed that each face-to-face exchange with members of the public costs £20 to £30 compared to just 3p for an online transaction. All five major council departments will be reorganised to make the city “leaner and more efficient”. The proposals will be considered by the council’s finance and resources committee next Thursday.
In his report, finance convener Alasdair Rankin said: “The council needs to take significant steps to tackle the financial challenges it faces as demand for our services continues to increase. At the same time, we want to make services for residents more efficient and effective.
“We set the direction of travel last month when the council agreed proposals for a new organisational structure, enabling more effective decision making at neighbourhood level and improved partnership working with third sector organisations.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS