Up to 600 Town Hall jobs at risk in latest council redundancies

Croydon Council yesterday launched another round of voluntary redundancies, as it tries to balance the Town Hall budget from a £3.5 million overspend.

Could this Grade II piece of public property soon be the next thing Croydon Council flogs off to cover-up for their mismanagement of public funds?

Croydon Town Hall: will there be any staff left?

Some estimates suggest as many as 600 more council jobs may need to go. The budget short-fall will surely make inevitable a 1.9per cent Council Tax increase from April – likely to yield an additional £1.5 million from residents who receive ever-diminishing services.

The council’s hard-pressed staff have endured annual culls for more than five years under the six-figure-salaried chief executives Jon Rouse and, more recently, Nathan Elvery, who continues to preside over a failure for which he is principally responsible. The 2015 edition of job cuts was announced yesterday through an unsigned missive via the somewhat remote council intranet system, and comes just in time for Christmas. All staff will have also received an email from Elvery.

As well as the redundancies, there is to be a council recruitment freeze, at least until April.

Under the heading “This year’s budget – message for all staff”, the intranet announcement stated: “As you know, we are facing a hugely challenging time as a council with cuts to our grant from government and increasing demand for our services. We remain committed to providing our residents with the best possible outcomes within the resources available.

“As an organisation we need to save a predicted £100 million from our budget over the next three financial years up to 2018-2019. The Croydon Challenge…” the title given by the council’s hierarchy to the programme of cuts and job losses, “… continues to contribute to the savings that we must find – identifying and delivering solutions and streamlining processes.”

Note that: the council, that is Elvery, says, “identifying and delivering solutions and streamlining processes”, when in fact they mean cutting services and handing out redundancy notices. George Orwell would be so proud.

Nathan Elvery: wants improved communication. He could start with his own letters

Nathan Elvery: a member of council staff who probably won’t be facing redundancy

The announcement continued: “This year’s budget included over £25 million of savings including a significant contribution from the Croydon Challenge programme. We have also experienced cuts to our funding since our budget was set, these include Public Health, CALAT and our Asylum Seekers grant.” This latter cut alone, made by Tory Home Secretary Theresa May, is reckoned to be worth £4million to our council, and has come just at a time when local services are groaning under the strain of additional demand from refugees arriving from Syria and Afghanistan.

The council intranet message then said: “This alongside continued increases in demand has led to a position where we are forecasting an overspend of £3.5 million. Despite a number of actions put in place earlier in the year this is not improving. This means that further measures are being put in place to ensure that the overspend is reduced as much as possible.

“The following additional measures will now be put in to place for the rest of the financial year and have been agreed by the Leader and Cabinet.

These are:
1. Recruitment pause – we will postpone the recruitment or engagement of interim, permanent and fixed term posts until April 2016.
2. Launch of council-wide voluntary severance programme to take effect 29 February 2016.
3. Review of agency resource – including requests for extension of assignments and a review of all long term agency/interims (over 12 months) with a target for arrangements over 12 months duration to end by the end of December 2015.
4. Further review of fees and charges increases in year.
5. Acceleration of review of top 50 families in People department led by Mark Fowler, director of gateway services to report opportunities for cost reduction by mid-December.
6. Increase care placement controls and challenge in adult social care

“All these actions are designed to reduce our revenue overspend in this year and to help our challenge for future years.”

The announcement continued to go into some detail, explaining how the “severance scheme”, initially voluntary, works.

“The scheme is open to all non-school permanent staff and aims to provide the best possible outcomes for staff who are thinking of changing their employment, retiring or making a career change. It is an important initiative in helping us to make the necessary changes to help us meet the financial challenge that we face.”

And ensures even worse provision of services from our local authority.

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5 Responses to Up to 600 Town Hall jobs at risk in latest council redundancies

  1. No new Architect’s department then?

  2. The odds are that the cuts are going to be from those services which affect the quality of life of Croydon residents and not from the higher echelons in Bernard Weatherill House, those with empire-building (and shopping centre) delusions of grandeur.

  3. Rod Davies says:

    The provision of “non essential” services is often what marks out the characteristics between an attractive place to live and a down heel conurbation. As the council will be able to suspend delivery of these services to save money, I wonder what the purchasers of the luxury apartments will make of the future Croydon? I suspect that one or two may be rather disappointed.
    However, on the bright side the housing crisis gets worse by the day, and many residents will be grateful for any roof over their heads, regardless of street cleaning, libraries etc etc.

  4. The ridiculous aspect to this recruitment freeze is that requests to recruit for posts that make direct savings to council budgets are being turned down. Staff appreciate fully that central government has made swingeing cuts, but the council is going to earn a reputation for poor financial stewardship when the freeze is indiscriminate.

    Of course what senior managers are hoping for is that staff on the ground will shrug their shoulders, doff their caps (yes, at the same time!) and take on the extra work. I feel there is a strong momentum building amongst a usually dedicated but now hugely disgruntled workforce where colleagues will start saying ‘no’.

    The nightmare scenario for a Labour council is civil war with Union friends representing burnt-out frontline staff in greivance cases. It’s not far off.

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