Monday, 19 July 2010

Redundancy mentioned just four times in 80 page Hackney cuts forecast

In its MTPF (MEDIUM TERM PLANNING FORECAST 2011/12 to 2013/14 (FORWARD PLAN NO. FR7 D50) pdf  icon PDF 496 KB) which was due to be discussed at last night's Cabinet meeting, the council said that Hackney was particularly vulnerable to government cuts (quotes below).

Despite this, in its "Workforce Strategy" redundancies are not mentioned once. In the whole 80 page document redundancy is mentioned in two sections, a total of four times. One is a restructuring in Safer neighbourhoods - saying there may be some - the the other is on page 79, saying the council has set aside £0.888m "To cover the potential costs of redundancies arising from reshaping of the Council’s service delivery."

This doesn't seem to match the visions of Hackney as the 21st Century pit village conjured up by Diane Abbott.

It also seems to differ from this article in the Camden New Journal which suggests that other Councils have been a bit more specific about redundancies - Camden has already put a 207 figure on it.

Neither does the redundancy-lite document seem to match up with these depressing quotes from Hackney's MTPF:

The council said: "It is impossible at this stage to predict the impact of future grant settlements on Hackney but we do know a uniform change in Central Government support will not have a uniform impact on all London Boroughs. Hackney’s position at the settlement floor, coupled with its relatively high reliance on Formula Grant and low taxbase means it is disproportionately more vulnerable to reductions in central government support than some other London Boroughs."


"It is also important to note that Hackney is an authority with a relatively low tax base compared to other London Boroughs and is in receipt of more Formula Grant per head of population than any other Borough. The significance of this is that Hackney is more susceptible to adverse changes to the Local Government Grant Distribution system. At this stage it is not yet clear whether there will be a further review of the funding formulae in time for the 2011/12 settlement but it should be noted that during the last two years, representatives of central and local government have been working on proposals to change the formulae that are used to calculate Formula Grant. Many of the proposals which have been formulated have not yet been modelled by CLG and so we don’t know exactly how they will affect the Council. However, some of the proposals which have been formulated could significantly disadvantage the Council"

I wasn't at the cabinet meeting and I haven't had time to make sure I have understood the Medium Term Planning forecast. The main issue is that Hackney seems to acknowledge that it is in for a rough ride, it's estimates for cuts range between 20%-30% scenarios,

On the UK as a whole it says:

"The UK economy emerged from recession in the last quarter of 2009 and grew at a rate of 0.3% in the first quarter of 2010. The general consensus among economists is that the UK economy will continue to grow over the medium term but at a lower rate than that predicted earlier in the year. However, there is a significant body of opinion that agrees there is a risk that the UK economy may suffer a “double-dip” recession i.e. fall back into recession during 2010, primarily as a result of the planned expenditure reductions and tax rises outlined in the June 2010 emergency budget (see paragraph 13).

One of the many issues it asks Cabinet members to note is: "that this report updates Cabinet on the recent announcements contained within the Emergency Budget on 22 June 2010 and sets out a range of scenarios on how this might impact upon the Council and its financial position. Members are asked to note the significant changes to the financial planning horizon arising from the impact of the credit crunch and the announcements in the Governments Emergency Budget. In particular the announcement that Government Departments will be expected to make savings of around an average of 25% over the next four years."

WORKFORCE STRATEGY (as stated in the MTPF):

19.2 In 2007 the Assistant Director (HR and Organisation Development) developed a workforce strategy to ensure that the Council had in place the skills, capacity and HR organisational procedures to enable it to deliver the objectives set out in the Corporate Plan and to ensure that we had in place a workforce that met the Council’s future needs. The strategy was reviewed earlier this year following a refresh of the Community Strategy and retitled the 'People and Organisation and Employee Development Strategy' in recognition of its dual role in supporting both the organisation and its staffin meeting agreed priorities and responsibilities. The strategy is split into 6 key themes:
• Recruitment and Retention • Supporting organisational change • Leadership and management • Developing excellent customer Services • Promoting Equality and celebrating Diversity and • Planning for the future
A range of key areas have been taken forward this year including an end to end review of recruitment which has resulted in the introduction of a centralised recruitment function, to be supported by the implementation of an e-recruitment system, a review of image and reputation and the roll out of the new agency contract; all as part of the ongoing commitment to consolidate the permanent workforce and reduce reliance on temporary staff. The programme of work which is being overseen by the Best Use of Resources Board also saw the introduction of a Council wide Apprenticeship scheme with the planned recruitment of up to 100 apprentices, and the introduction of workforce planning into the revised service planning process. Other people management initiatives included the introduction of a new Management Development programme for 2nd to 4th tier, achievement of level 3 of the Equality Standard and the commissioning of a new cultural change programme to support the extensive OD requirements arising out of Service First.

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