Croydon in crisis: Council staff in frontline posts lose their jobs

The council’s hard-pressed children’s services department is among the first to lay-off staff, despite assurances from the council leader, while exec directors, on six-figure salaries, have escaped redundancy.
STEVEN DOWNES reports

Tony Newman: Labour council leader is cutting jobs in frontline services

Council staff, some of whom have been given notice of redundancy, are furious with their employers and the council’s Labour leader Tony Newman, after it was claimed that job cuts were necessary “to protect frontline services”.

Staff who have been in contact with Inside Croydon this week say that frontline services, including the borough’s hard-pressed children’s services department, are in fact among the first to suffer cuts.

Croydon is the first local authority in the country to start making job cuts, it says because of the financial pressures caused by the coronavirus lockdown.

On Monday, the council began the process of handing out at least 175 redundancy notices, it says because of a £65million shortfall in its budget for the year caused by covid-19. The job cuts are part of a 15 per cent cut in all council spending. More than 400 jobs and posts are expected to be axed, that number possibly reaching 500 by the end of the process.

But staff are convinced that covid is being used as an excuse for deeper problems, and incompetence, among the council’s leadership.

“The rhetoric is that redundancies are needed because of the debts due to covid-19,” one council worker told this website, on condition of anonymity.

“We know that this is not completely true and there has been mismanagement prior to this. Croydon’s huge debt was well-known before the coronavirus emergency.”

This week, standing on the steps of the Town Hall, Newman told BBC London, “My job as the leader of this council is to make sure we protect those vital frontline services that sadly more and more people will be depending on.

“And that’s why we’ve got to make some tough decisions around some of ur staff numbers to reduce the cost base of  the council, to make sure there is a council here in Croydon in the months and years ahead to provide those services.”

Staff and union officials say that the reality is different: cutting through Newman’s waffle, they say that what the council leader told the BBC was simply not true.

“The job cuts will not save public services, since it’s actually frontline workers, ‘keyworkers’, who are in scope for redundancy,” the council staffer said.

“I never thought I would see the day in my career in social work with this borough that I would be at risk of losing my job. It’s absolutely outrageous. The council has been cutting locum, temporary social work posts since January, and now it’s the permanent social workers across children’s services and adult services whose jobs are at risk, plus other staff.

Insiders say that among the first job cuts have been those working in adult social care and children’s services

“The impact on remaining staff, services and Croydon people will be disastrous,” said the council insider.

The council’s children’s services department has only just emerged with a “good” rating from Ofsted after nearly three years in special measures, following a highly critical inspection which found that some children and young adults in the council’s care were at serious risk of harm.

At the core of the problems was under-staffing, with not enough social workers to deal with an enormous caseload. This has only been put right after the council threw millions – at least £25million over two years – at improving recruitment and retention. Now, it seems, the lessons from the 2017 Ofsted inspection have already been forgotten.

Another angry council insider said, “The frontline council workers are being made to pay with their jobs and livelihoods, It will all come crashing down when there is no one left to deliver essential council services that Council Tax-payers pay for!”

Union officials within the council can barely contain their fury that, under a supposedly Labour-run authority, it is their members who are to suffer most, while the exec directors in Fisher’s Folly, some of whom earn in one month what some of the council’s lowest-paid receive in a year, appear immune from any cuts.

“The greater burden is going to fall on the poorly paid people in very low grades, many of whom are often black or women,” one union rep said.

“This is caused by the fat-cat senior management and directors who have run the council badly and continue to deceive.

“The shame is the councillors don’t seem able to control these out-of-control and incompetent directors. Shame all round!”

The ‘fat cats’ in Fisher’s Folly have not even had a wage cut, and seem safe from losing their high-salary jobs

It is a view held by others who face losing their jobs, some after many years’ service.

“We were originally told that staff across all grades and levels will be affected, but this is not the case,” a council staffer said. “No one from the ‘Executive Leadership Team’ is going or has even made a gesture to sacrifice part of their huge salaries that could save the jobs of frontline keyworkers.

“We are told ‘thank you’ for all the hard work people have done during the difficult months of covid-19 and that we should all ‘support one another’. Now it’s ‘sorry you’ve lost your job’. We’re sick of being patronised. It’s absolutely appalling.

“I’m sure the country would be outraged if frontline NHS keyworkers were to face losing their jobs right now, as is happening to us.”


Advertisements

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
This entry was posted in Adult Social Care, Children's Services, Croydon Council, Jo Negrini, Tony Newman and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Croydon in crisis: Council staff in frontline posts lose their jobs

  1. Sebastian Tillinger says:

    Newman is a weak leader. That’s now clearer than ever.

    He’s unable to tell it as it is, he lied to the BBC, and he is too in awe of senior council officials to demand cuts through all sections of the council, including senior management.

    A not insignificant part of this crisis facing the council is a result of series of bad senior management decisions.

    I frequently question the calibre and experience of senior managers in Croydon Council and I conclude the interview process must be a complete joke. Jo Negrini is appointing the wrong people for senior jobs and many of these are friends and acquaintances. Croydon Council senior management is not a meritocracy, it’s a ‘does your face fit and will you toe the line?’

    That’s all well and good if management is working. If it’s not working, as we can see now, the situation is inexcusable.

    And Newman is a weak ringmaster who is facilitating all this and keeping the lid on everyone’s lacklustre performances (like his own).

    I and many Croydon Council employees and residents have now seen the true worth of Jo Negrini, Tony Newman and their specially selected senior management protected ‘mates’ – and now want rid of them at the first opportunity.

  2. Christopher Myers says:

    Whaaat??!! Children’s services were understaffed and underresourced at the front line. What are they thinking???

  3. Mike Buckley says:

    Disgraceful really! To think Children’s services were the Croydon weak area due to understaffing, so what do they do CUT THE STAFF – it seems unbelievable (and we pay these people to think in this way).
    How many “brownie points” would our favourite leader and his merry helpers have gained if they had taken a £10,000 pay cut, not to mention the best example possible as they are our leaders? Don’t forget to vote them back in next time.

  4. Joe Decon says:

    I thought the bankers who caused the financial crash in 2008 were one of the kind.
    Now it appears the council leadership is as inept and greedy.
    Croydon council has disgraced itself .
    The leadership is playing its rank and file staff like hapless fools with a cocktail of disinformation and hubris.

    The Leader and CEO should step down if they have any dignity.
    This council is toast and I cannot see its financial fortunes turn around at all.

    • Sebastian Tillinger says:

      Yes, it’s about the loss of personal responsibility and personal accountability in public service in Croydon.

      What Jo Negrini doesn’t get and Tony Newman clearly hasn’t told her when he sneaked her through the back door to the CEO role is that with a £200k+ salary, personal responsibility and personal accountability is not something you can simply opt out of.

      It’s a prerequisite with the salary and position.

      Residents shouldn’t have to be spelling this out to the council. We need a strong, dynamic, articulate and experienced person running Croydon Council – now more so than ever before.

  5. John Maynard says:

    How much did the council spend on buying the Colonnades and a hotel again?
    How did those worked out now we have a pandemic?

    • David Wickens says:

      About £53 million for the Colonnades and £30 million for the hotel. Rental income for the hotel must now be zero and likely to be much reduced on the Colonnades.

  6. alicdoodle says:

    Its cheering for those frontline staff to see money spaffed up the wall for buy back of Brick by Brick’s un sellable flats and for them to see the ‘chief executive’ salaries, allowances, read about their trips etc and then for actual useful staff to get thrown under the bus. I’m sure I feel the same as our family pay £2300 a year in council tax for a 1200 square foot 3 bed bungalow in South croydon. What fantastic value for money Croydon’s council is I say to myself as I watch the planning commissar with his visions# (presumably visions of peak communist Romania) destroy more beautiful houses in my road for nothing more than fleeting profit of developers and for no actual demand. Yes, cheering, comrades.

Leave a Reply