Edinburgh council set to shed hundreds of jobs

Edinburgh City Council offices at Waverley Court. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

Edinburgh City Council offices at Waverley Court. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

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HUNDREDS of middle management roles are set to go at Edinburgh Council as bosses look to fill a massive £138 million black hole by 2017/18.

Chief Executive Sue Bruce has revealed her plans for a “more efficient” workforce in a report entitled Organise to Deliver: Next Steps which is to appear before full council next week.

The report outlines how city management teams overseeing key services such as schools, transport and elderly care will be stripped out.

Currently there are five key city departments and they are to be replaced by four along the lines of the city’s health boundaries.

In her report selling the plan to councillors Ms Bruce speaks of “fundamental change” so that decision-making power is devolved to frontline staff dealing with residents.

Crucial detail on precisely what the revamp will mean for individual workers and departments should be released early in the new year, they added.

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The discredited and wide-ranging Services for Communities department formerly headed by Mark Turley which oversaw the Mortonhall, statutory repairs and Liberton High fatal accident is to be broken up

Council leader Andrew Burns said: “Indicatively, we’re talking hundreds of roles here. But this is against the backdrop of a no compulsory redundancy policy. We have quite a significant churn in the organisation – it’s something like six to eight per cent on a usual year.”

“Frontline service delivery will, if anything, be numerically enhanced.”

Edinburgh council cash woes ‘worse than thought’

Mr Bruce’s report highlights how at present there are 16 layers of management between the street level and her own office and that there are more than 2000 different job descriptions within the 16,000 staff members.

Unison has said that its officers would examine the report in detail.

John Stevenson, Unison Edinburgh branch president: “Aberdeen had a neighbourhood system that was roundly condemned in a child protection inspection. Edinburgh had a neighbourhood system a few years ago that cost £9 million and lost direct lines of accountability for social work which was also criticised in an inspection. Any new system must learn from these lessons”

The union is also demanding that the council sticks to its no compulsory redundancy pledge.

He added: “All the salami slicing has now been done. Re-organisations, back office cuts that create more work and are false economies, and a wage freeze have delivered as much as they can and we are going to see frontline services disappearing never to return.

“Councils like Edinburgh cannot wait for a review of funding a year down the road. The Scottish Government must step in now before local government becomes unviable.”

The local authority expects to have to save £138m by 2017. A separate consultation is currently underway on options for next year’s budget.

Earlier this week the Accounts Commission expressed “growing concern” over how the council might deal with budget reductions.

The public spending watchdog said the council needed to develop a comprehensive strategy for managing its staff.

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