17/09/2015 Questions to Full Council from Cllr Varinder Singh Bola

17 Sep

The below extract is taken from Redbridge Council’s approved minutes for 17th September 2015:

Question from Councillor Cole to the Cabinet Member for Finance and Support Services, Councillor Rai, can the Cabinet Member tell me how many people were employed by Redbridge Council (including Vision) in May 2014 and how many are employed now, how many in that time have been made redundant, how many have left and not been replaced, how many vacancies there are which will be filled?

Councillor Rai replied that in May 2014 the Council employed 2,683 people. This reduced by 123 to 2,560 in August 2015 (a 4.6% reduction in headcount).

In order to meet the serious financial challenges, every Service Area was looking at what and how they delivered services. The Council continued to minimise the impact on Redbridge residents but it was likely that the number of jobs in the Council would continue to reduce.

Between May 2014 and August 2015, 82 people had left the Council as a result of redundancy (70 Voluntary and 12 Compulsory). There were currently a further 63 redundancy cases that had already been approved and were scheduled to leave before the end of the year. If these were all agreed, the total number of redundancies would be 174. However, as restructures continued the number of redundancies was likely to increase for the foreseeable future.

Over the 16 month period there were a total of 468 leavers, (including the 82 redundancies). A snap-shot of vacancies on 11th August showed 207 vacancies, but some of these were in the midst of being recruited to, remained vacant as part of an organisational review. Councillor Rai highlighted that it was important to note that the vacancy data changed on a daily basis.

In terms of Vision, although not strictly Council employees, Vision had confirmed that they employed 351 people as of May 2014 and 352 as of August 2015. Although the numbers have not actually changed, there were 100 leavers including 17 redundancies over that period.

A number of income generating initiatives had meant the appointments of a significant number of frontline staff in the last year. These included: Owls Play House; Re-modelling of South Woodford Library and Gym; Fairlop High Ropes; Ilford County High Swimming and the School Library Service.

By way of a supplementary question, Councillor Cole asked whether any action will be taken to reduce the number of leavers and reduce the impact we have on areas like Planning and Highways where there seems to be a very ready stream of leavers and whether we should be looking at our recruitment and retention packages so that we can keep these vital people to deliver our services?

Councillor Rai replied that many leavers were part of the redundancy and reorganisation process that the Council have been going through. Councillor Rai noted that Members that had been here longer than he had, had probably complained for many years about Highways and Planning. What’s happened over the past 6 months has been a complete restructure of Planning. The Administration was confident of the restructure of Planning and there were plans in place now to recruit in planning. The Administration were also confident that they would have the right people in place to recruit for those positions?, and that Members should see an improvement over the year.

By way of a secondary supplementary question, Councillor Singh Bola asked could the Cabinet Member tell us how the voluntary redundancy scheme has been received by members of staff?

Councillor Rai replied that the voluntary redundancy scheme was initially launched in March of this year. Councillor Rai was proud that the Council had agreed to apply it with enhanced terms. Overall the feedback from staff and unions had been warm, as it allowed for our staff to have control over their futures. Its introduction was on the back of very harsh Government cuts that this and other local authorities were having to face, and as part of this Administrations desire to allow people to leave with dignity. Since then 70 people have decided to leave the Council under voluntary redundancy. There were a further 63 people whose cases had been approved and were due to leave before the end of the year. Voluntary redundancy is used in both private and public sector and with other Councils having similar schemes.

As well as London wide collaborations having to provide the best support, the Council has a wide range of information, support and workshops available to employees supporting redundancy, including early access to Council jobs; redeployment support; job finding contact points including making links with other large employers such as the NHS; training workshops including CV writing and interview skills; redeployment support and making the most of your money; understanding change and planning for the future. The Administration was trying to make sure that the people who do leave, leave with dignity and that was the ultimate aim of the Administrations voluntary redundancy scheme.

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