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Most Councils are cutting the back office while protecting the front line

An interesting survey by  the Local Government Association of Finance Directors of all 349 councils in England asking where the axe will fall.

Just over half were amending downwards the terms of their redundancy schemes. 58% of councils  were targeting "Central Services" (admin) for proportionately greater savings. That's good, I suppose. But my modest grasp of maths tells me that leaves 42% of councils are not targeting that area for proportionately greater savings.

It then asks which other areas have had particularly high spending cuts - but that doesn't tell us how those savings have been achieved. Some have assumed it is by service cuts but that will vary from case to case.

The survey continued:

Authorities were asked to indicate which, if any, of six forms of organisational change they had already undertaken. Only one authority had not implemented any, while 23 had implemented all six. The most common organisational changes already made were reducing senior-officer costs (90 per cent of respondent authorities), reducing middle-management costs (72 per cent), setting up shared services with another local authority (71 per cent) and outsourcing services (67 per cent).

The other two were shared services within the organisation (52%) and shared services with another organisation (27%). So the number who have pursued all six is very small. I bet it won't include any of the Labour councils shouting most loudly about hiw they have "no alternative" to cutting services.

Another section found:

Around three out of five respondents (61 per cent) were in the process of saving money by renegotiating or changing contracts/contractors, a similar proportion (57 per cent) were reviewing and transforming organisational structure, just over half (52 per cent) were freezing pay, and just under a half (45 per cent) were disposing of or consolidating assets. Pay reductions for staff below middle management were markedly less common (eight per cent, with 73 per cent having no current plans to do so). The proportion planning to make changes over the next two years varied: for example, seven per cent were planning pay freezes while 33 per cent were planning to dispose of/consolidate assets.

On Sure Start the overwhelming story (62%) was one of increased help for the vulnerable while the total budget was reduced. On libraries many were finding other ways to reduce spending than closing libraries. Around a quarter (26 per cent of those planning savings) planned to transfer library services to community or mutual ownership, and just over a fifth (22 per cent) planned to move library services to other buildings alongside other services.


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