Jobs under threat at Angus Council

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Steps to help Angus Council respond to a funding gap of around £40 million over the next three years could see jobs shed - but there are no details yet to how many staff could be affected.

Angus councillors met yesterday (Tuesday) to discuss the Transforming Angus Next Steps report, which set out proposals to “increase the pace and scale of change to the Council’s Transforming Angus change programme”, and sought “authority to procure additional services from the Council’s strategic partner (Ernst and Young)”.

The report also highlighted the financial challenges for the local authority, saying it faced “enormous service and financial challenges over the next few years reflecting a projected shortfall over the four year period from 2017/18 to 2020/21, ranging from £29.8m (optimistic view) to £51.5m (pessimistic view). These further savings required in budgets come on top of the £21.8m already saved in the last three years alone. The scale of these challenges must not be under estimated and together they call for direct and sustained action.”

It was agreed at the meeting, following a motion put forward by Councillor David Fairweather, that all decisions would be made by full council, rather than a sub-committee of eight councillors, as proposed by Councillor Iain Gaul.

The report also recommended that members “agree that delivering the savings of the magnitude required will also require fundamental changes to the way in which the Council operates (political and operational), reflecting a need for strong leadership at all levels of the organisation, including making challenging decisions by Members, and a high risk that ‘business as usual’ activity will be impacted (i.e. re-designing, reducing and stopping services) as staff commit the required time and effort to develop the comprehensive ‘pipeline’ of projects and then deliver them.”

An Angus Council statement explained: “The Transforming Angus Next Steps report represents the council’s response to the current funding gap of around £40 million over the next three years.

“We do not as yet have any detail round the number of staff who may be affected by the changes brought about through the Transforming Angus Next Steps programme. However, we are clear on the following:

“We will need fewer people in some areas as we replace our paper based process with end to end digital processes and more customers choose to use our self-service digital services.

“We will need fewer people if we chose to stop non-needs based services or where customers chose alternative providers.

“As we become a more digital organisation staff will be expected to be adaptable and learn new skills. Our focus is on changing how we work so we can provide the services people need and ensure they are sustainable and affordable.

“We are supporting our staff through this change and the council wants to develop the required skills within our workforce wherever we can.

“We will always need talented people who are committed to public service.

“There are exciting careers in this council of the future and we will always need people who are:

Flexible.

Responsive.

Bold and creative thinkers.

Digitally literate.

Ambitious and resilient.

“The council management has made a commitment to staff that in all of this we are taking a one council approach:

Staff and service users will be involved with service redesign in timely and open consultations.

Any staff affected will hear about changes to their services first.

Service redesign will follow a standard and open process.

Change will be implemented consistently across the council.

We will follow our Managing Workforce Change policies, using existing measures such workforce development, redeployment, targeted ER/VR and compulsory redundancy in the last resort.

The unions have been and will continue to be consulted.