“Procurement” or how Croydon recruits while axing staff

There’s a recession on, isn’t there, with jobs and council services being cut across the board?

Croydon CEO Jon Rouse's glass palace, a monument to his council's delusions and hypocrisy

Not in Conservative-controlled Croydon, where a dedicated website is being used to recruit 10 staff in management roles for one department, most of the jobs offering salaries of £50,000.

Given the austerity measures that our council is imposing on many of the residents, with above-inflation increases in charges for car parking and vermin control, and where they cannot afford the price of a second-class stamp to inform people of planning applications that might affect their homes, imagine Inside Croydon’s surprise when we looked on the Croydon Council jobs page to discover these opportunities in the “Procurement function”.

This is a department which our loyal reader will remember being featured when we identified the frisbee-throwing talents of the interim head Paul Davies, who was being paid more than £700 per day from the otherwise hard-pressed Council Tax-funded Croydon budget.

A recent check of the job opportunities in the free-spending Procurement Function at Croydon Council revealed that it will not be long before Davies is not the only one on a lucrative salary package in the very department that is supposed to seek best value for the Council Tax-payers of Croydon.

Croydon Council has a dedicated recruitment website, presumably being supported by the private consultancy doing the recruitment: Penna, a company which regularly features in the invoices section of the council website.

If you opt to visit the recruitment website, you should find lots more information, some of which might even be up-to-date. The site links to Croydon’s old “Corporate Plan”, which was recently updated by the Strategy function, which of course is also a part of the SCPP division … the use of an out-of-date document on the site is what you might describe as another example of not joined up local government in Croydon.

The site also offers a link to Croydon’s data Observatory (which is also a function of SCPP), where it claims the council has around 400,000 residents (why not be more precise?) and is the second largest London borough (it is actually the largest borough by population).

There is also a terrific structure chart, so you can see just how many highly paid jobs there are in a procurement department that is seeking to keep down the cost of running the council. Lewis Carroll could not have done any better.

Inside Croydon readers who wish to “appy” (as the link at the bottom of the home page says) may want to read the director, Sarah Ireland’s, take on her new division:

“The Council has recently undertaken a major transformation of its organisational structure leading to the development of the Strategy, Commissioning, Procurement and Performance (SCPP) function. SCPP is an innovative operation which will develop and sustain a culture that optimises value and drives the delivery of service driven outcomes.”

Yes. Ireland really has written “drives the delivery of service driven outcomes”. What a load of meaningless, self-aggrandising twaddle. Anyway, Ireland continues…

“Sitting within SCPP is Commissioning and Procurement which has been established on a Category basis with a total annual addressable spend of £340 million. Having got this far the Council is now looking to recruit bright, creative, passionate and inspiring people who will work as part of an expert team, which includes the Councils partner PWC… ”

We note the sad absence of the proper use of an apostrophe, and also highlight the reference to Price Waterhouse Coopers, the very expensive consultants, bought in by Croydon Council, and paid for by the residents.

“… to deliver the Councils vision and ambitions. Specifically, we are looking for a new breed of procurement specialists who can push aside the traditional barriers about how we go to market and provide services that generate improved outcomes whilst driving down costs…

“I would like to emphasise that Croydon Council is an exciting and challenging place to work, a big borough with big ambitions, it is willing to do things differently, it embraces the opportunities that public sector reforms bring and it will fundamentally change the way things are done to improve value for money.”

So: 10 x £50,000 (plus the usual employment costs of NI, pensions etc). Plus the cost of hiring in PWC. More Town Hall empire-building, and all in the name of “improved outcomes whilst driving down costs” at the council that boasts “efficiency is in our DNA”.

You have to think that the new jobs are being recruited so that £248,000 a year Chief Executive Jon Rouse is not left all alone when he moves to the wonderful glass palace he is having built as part of the council’s £450 million “Hub”, a monument to Croydon’s delusions and hypocrisy.

But there is a further question which arises from this recruitment splurge: the council budget, which was agreed in the Conservative-run Town Hall in February, includes job losses in SCPP in this financial year.

So is it a case of Procurement Peter being robbed to pay Paul (Davies)?

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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