OPINION BY JOHN BRACE: Well as promised at last Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, Wirral Council has published its option papers for part two of the What Really Matters consultation.
As explained on the website the options are about 25% more than the savings required (so the consultation is really about the 25% of things Wirral Council does in the options the public would like to save). Despite stating on their website that the consultation lasts until January 31st 2013, some decisions will be have to be made at the special Cabinet meetings on December 20th 2012 to comply with legal requirements on consultation with the workforce.
There will be more unspecified “consultation events” and of course staff/trade union consultation too. What does this mean for staff working in service areas identified as a budget option? It means basically one of two things if you’re an employee in a service area that’s become an “option”:-
(a) you’ll could be lucky this year and end up in the 25% of options that aren’t cut, due to public/staff support in this current consultation or other reasons (but this doesn’t rule out your post being cut in future years),
(b) once the special Cabinet meeting (followed by the Employment and Appointments Committee) of 20th December 2012 meets your job could be at risk under the new (recently approved) less generous redundancy scheme
How many jobs will go at Wirral Council as a result of this? Well the law requires this kind of consultation for over twenty redundancies, the real figure partly depends on a bunch of decisions yet to be made, however if you add the predicted shortfall of £25.4 million next year to the current required in-year savings of £13.2 million, you get £38.6 million.
Obviously not all the £38.6 million will be staff’s salaries and some staff are directly employed by schools. These figures are based on full-time equivalents, as Wirral Council employs a lot of part-time workers, the real figures could be higher than this estimate.
However by my rough estimates it would be around 154 to 1,026 FT employees that will need to go to balance the books. With those types of numbers involved it won’t just the normal reasons people leave and there will have to be redundancies. The specifics of who, how many and which service areas has yet to be decided (apart from some Executive Team decisions on the current in year savings).