Kerswell culls 58 more jobs as council wrestles with budget

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Struggling to cut another £38m from its already trimmed spending, council chiefs’ response is to make more frontline workers redundant. By our Town Hall correspondent, KEN LEE

More cuts: Katherine Kerswell

Croydon’s cash-strapped council is struggling to make the further multi-million-pound budget cuts necessary to satisfy the Whitehall mandarins who are overseeing the running of the bankrupt borough, as CEO Katherine Kerswell yesterday wrote to what’s left of her staff to reveal that dozens more jobs are to be axed.

According to sources at Fisher’s Folly, as many as 58 jobs are to go in this latest round of redundancies.

The £192,000 per year chief executive, who was parachuted into Fisher’s Folly in September 2020 initially as a temporary measure, has so far increased the number of executive director-level (now cunningly re-titled corporate directors) positions at the dysfunctional council, while around 500 frontline positions have already been cut or left unfilled since before the first covid lockdown.

Kerswell’s staff email was circulated just ahead of the publication of an official report for the budget-setting council cabinet meeting on December 6. For all the empty platitudes proffered by council leader Hamida “Apologetic” Ali in the accompanying press release, the report provides a series of strong indications that senior officials are struggling to make the £38.4million-worth of cuts required for 2022-2023.

Following the council declaring itself effectively bankrupt in November 2020, it received a massive government bail-out, but only on condition that its annual spend was much reduced.

This year (2021-2022), budget cuts of £44.7million have been identified, which Ali describes as “significant progress in tackling its financial challenges”, and claiming that the government and the improvement panel imposed to monitor Croydon’s work have both expressed “confidence in the council’s ability to deliver its renewal plans and improve the services it offers”.

Mind the gap: Richard Ennis

That’s not necessarily the view of Richard Ennis, the council’s finance director (crisis-hit Croydon’s third in 12 months) who on Thursday night told councillors, “There’s a gap between savings identified and savings that are needed.”

In her email to staff yesterday, Kerswell provided all the usual vacuous managementspeak guff about how well the council and its staff are doing to “meet the challenges” on their “journey”.

But the hard truth is that a local authority that is already struggling to deliver even the most basic of services is set to cut more jobs.

“While we have sought to minimise job losses through deleting vacant posts, some staff posts will unfortunately be affected,” Kerswell wrote. By using “affected”, Kerswell was avoiding writing “made redundant”.

“Those who are directly affected will be spoken to their manager today.

“We have also met the trade unions and will keep them fully informed through the staff consultation period.” Which seems likely to run through Christmas, which will be nice.

In the press release issued from the Fisher’s Folly propaganda bunker last night, Hamida Ali was quoted as saying, “Putting the council on a sustainable financial footing will mean difficult decisions and like all councils we continue to be impacted by covid-19, economic uncertainty and rising demand for our services after a decade of government cuts.”

Ali also said, “While we have to save money, we will protect core services and focus on transforming our services, to ensure residents get full value for every penny spent.”

Given the latest round of job cuts, and Ennis’s publicly expressed reservations, there have to be some serious doubts about whether further budget cuts can be “sustainable”, or that core services will not be fundamentally undermined.

Read more: Town Hall’s untrue claims about cuts to Council Tax Support
Read more: Further £38.4m to be sliced from next year’s council budget
Read more: Labour wants to cut voluntary sector funding by a ‘full Negrini’

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This entry was posted in Croydon Council, Hamida Ali, Improvement Board, Katherine Kerswell, Richard Ennis, Section 114 notice, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Kerswell culls 58 more jobs as council wrestles with budget

  1. It’s fair that you contrast ‘front-line workers’ with the execs on fat cat salaries, but the hard fact is that 80 percent of the wage bill for bankrupt Croydon is for those on average salaries.

    • Chris Flynn says:

      And what percent of work (‘value’) is from those on average salaries? What percent of homes in Croydon will be affected this Christmas? Is it larger for front-line or fat cats?

    • Or, perhaps to put it more realistically, 1 percent of the staff consume 20 percent of the wage bill. How just is that when those same individuals are largely responsible for creating the financial morass Croydon is in?

      • Christopher Myers says:

        Easy to blame the bosses but this is a systemic problem

        • It’s easy to blame the bosses when they have clearly been responsible for “the biggest local authority failure in the history of local authorities”.
          Many are paying with their jobs, or essential services.
          Others walk into new jobs or collect pay-offs in six figures.
          It’s bent

  2. Croydon residents should be wary.

    Whilst there’s no disputing Jo Negreedy, Tony Newman and his cabinet largely caused the financial disaster we see in Croydon Council today.

    The Government have stepped in to right the boat by whatever cuts are necessary. The Government don’t necessarily care too much where the cuts come from as long as the books are in the direction of balance.

    The Government temporarily parachuted in Katherine Kerswell to act as their eyes and ears whilst these cuts are being implemented. Like the Government, Kerswell doesn’t care too much where the cuts come from as long as she delivers results for her master, the Government. Kerswell is one of these local government gravy-train figures who move from local authority to local authority, taking the big salary and when things get tricky, moving on.

    Both the Government and Kerswell don’t have the things that matter most to Croydon residents on their radar at all – ie, front line services, education, helping refugees and education.

    And yet… some very stupid people in the council and leading our local parties thought it’d be a great idea to give the permanent CEO position to Kerswell !! Talk about self-inflicted harm!! Will Croydon Council always be led by blinkered numpties ?

    I’m still waiting for Kerswell to put down her hatchet and say something positive about Croydon. Her silence says it all.

  3. Lancater says:

    Christopher,
    those on average salaries… following the orders, policies, strategies and dictates of the incompetent !

  4. Neither of the two leading contenders for the prize of Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Jason Perry and Val Shawcross, have tweeted their concern about these redundancies or said what they’d do about the dire financial straits they’ll have on their desk if they win. Just vague soundbites about listening and change and cleaning up.

  5. Ian Kierans says:

    So where are the checks and balances, the regulators the ombudsmen the health safety and environmental people where is the independent oversight of Local Government and what is the Ministry doing to ensure that the Laws are adhered to and Public safety and Welfare are a top priority and will not be endangered by these cuts?
    Ah yes the Cardinal has gone , long live the Cardinal! So is the present Local Government incumbent casting an eye on this mess and the likely scandal of this house of cards falling and people dying from the death of a thousand cuts – Literally?
    Considering the previous incumbent at the Ministry of Local Gov had the responsibility of Grenfell. I wonder how many meetings he had with that poor CEO appointed in 2017, Dr Barry Quirk.

    I am sure this had nothing to do with Mr Quirks wife being appointed interim CEO of Croydon nor her subsequent appointment to the permanent role. No the reality probably was no other sensible person would take on the disaster, but it is closer to their Lewisham home.
    Mind you considering that they both blocked a development beside their home of a roof terrace on the grounds of noise vibration – and won, I wonder how they are getting on with those Neighbours now? It is closer to home and a less polluting journey from Lewisham.

    interesting that a roof terrace causes noise vibration and is blocked. But heavy drilling and building work at 130db for over a year at any hour the developer chooses is classed as a ”legal development” and adhering to the building code is ”voluntary”.

    Now what was that Judges name? ah yes Mr Justice Waksman in 2019 – Perhaps we should all take our development objections direct to Justice Waksman who besides being a dab pilot of the Jackson Reforms is also a learned and respected Judge in Planning matters.

    So Ms Kerswell if you need to save money – dispense with planning – lets just get this guy on retainer to the Council and it’s residents. You tell us how many jobs in that Factory of Residential misery can be dispensed with before you start cutting front facing roles in enforcement environment
    – in fact anywhere else?

    Lets get real your approval rating would skyrocket!

    Strange how the 6 degree’s of separation works in a city of 9.5 Million!

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