One of the areas that the government has asked councils to look at is the cost of senior management. In 2009/10 Ealing spent £9.7 million on the 98 people who comprise its top three layers of management. (See answers to questions 40-42 asked by Cllr Stacey at October council here). Roughly speaking we have 100 people who cost us £100K each, a total of £10 million.
The top two layers of the management structure comprises 21 people and cost £2.9 million per annum. There are plans in the budget to reduce this spend by 30% and save £0.9 million. It has to be said that these plans are backloaded and see the savings delayed for a year and then stretched out over three years. This is not the way to do it. It should have been done on Friday May 7th 2010 and not left to run until 2014. This cut does not affect the layer below, the 77 service heads.
At the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 2nd December where we looked at the budget I challenged the council’s chief executive as to why we were seeing 50% cuts in some frontline services whilst management costs were largely unchanged. He explained that only 7 out of 77 service heads had so far been put at risk as a result of the current proposals. He also made reference to future changes to the management structure.
The saving so far banked from the service heads is only 9% in headcount terms compared to the 50% cuts we are seeing in some frontline services valued by residents such as park rangers, envirocrime officers and community centre staff.
On top of the senior management saving of £0.9 million being delayed there is a missing saving of £1.4 million here related to the service head layer of the council, 21% of the £6.8 million cost of the service heads. Whilst frontline cuts are frontloaded the cuts that residents might like to see are delayed or simply not even identified. Yet again we get the sense that residents’ priorities are not at the top of the list.