In the last nine days I have looked at six areas where I think the Labour administration has been unwise to cut and three areas where I donâ€™t understand why they have gone easy. It is always important to say where you think the money should come from if there are areas you want to protect. If I wanted to protect the Â£1.5 million of spending that I have identified hereâ€™s how I would do it.
There is at least Â£10 million to be found, not immediately I will grant you, in bringing the councilâ€™s terms and conditions for staff into line with the kind enjoyed by most of the people who actually pay council tax. I would point out that the Labour administration has had 10 minths to look at this and happily ignored it unlike councils such as Croydon and Birmingham, the London Fire Brigade and the police.
For instance, council staff work a 35 hour week, they get 27 days paid holiday which rises to 30 after five years service and 33 after ten. In addition staff receive special payments of Â£1.8 million. The value of the 35 hour week compared to the 37.5 that most work is Â£23 million. The value of the extra holiday if you reckon that the terms are at least 4 days too generous is Â£6.2 million. The total value of these concessions to the workforce is Â£31 million. See blog here.
If we could just negotiate one third of this, Â£10 million, we could start to unwind some of the frontline cuts that Labour have made. Sure it would be a hard negotiation to have with council staff but if it meant more frontline services for residents I am sure they would want to talk at least â€“ and we are after all only asking for one third of the difference between their terms and those enjoyed by the rest of us.