City of Edinburgh Council reveal cash saving jobs cull plan


By Shaun Milne

COUNCIL chiefs in Edinburgh have drawn up plans to axe at least 300 jobs as part of a £16m cost-saving plan.

City of Edinburgh Council bosses say it will be mainly management posts and backroom jobs in the firing line.

But insiders warned “nothing can be ruled in or out at this stage”.

The cuts – to be rolled out over three years – are the first steps to achieving savings of some £90m expected to be needed.

Details of the proposals drawn up by council officials were being presented to unions today (wed).

A statement warned that compulsory redundancies could “not be ruled out” and would include a cull of temporary staff.

Other options include leaving vacancies unfilled and schemes including early retirement, redeployment to empty posts and voluntary redundancies where appropriate.

A meeting of the full council will take place in Edinburgh on September 16 to discuss the initial plans.

But officials warned “further saving proposals” would also be looked at over coming months before setting their final budget in February.

Staff at the council said that would include “everything” – with heads of departments all required to identify potential efficiencies.

Council Leader Jenny Dawe said: “The harsh reality of the UK budget deficit requires us to confront some very difficult decisions.

“These officer recommendations highlight the scale and severity of the challenge. We recognise just how concerning this is for staff and we will critically examine the proposals received from directors.

“We will do all we can to support staff and to protect the valued and vital services they deliver for the people of Edinburgh.”

The council employs some 20,000 staff on various contracts including temporary and part time workers.

The current Chief Executive Tom Aitchison, who has worked for the council for 36 years, will retire early in January on a pension reported to be worth £85,000 a year.

Officials Jim Inch, director of corporate services, is also stepping down in January, with finance director Donald McDougan also a departure.

It was not known who, if anyone, will replace them.

The first redundancies in the 15 year history of the council were confirmed in a report yesterday which states that the payroll and human resources departments will be merged to save £550,000 a year.

It will affect staff based at their offices in Waverley Court and Chesser House in the move to be put before the Finance Committee next week.

Six managers will go as part of the changes there by the end of this year.

A further 15 posts will go among customer assistants and administrators.

Finance leader Phil Wheeler said: “This is a perfect example of the kind of change we need to move forward.

“Working smarter is something we must all do to provide extra value for money.”

A briefing was being delivered to all staff at the council with a series of small meetings also expected to be held.

The majority are members of unions Unison, Unite and the GMB.

The council has clashed in recent times with unions including a high profile strike involving bin men.

It resulted in the council drawing up an Alternative Business Model Programme to examine what services could be put out to the private sector.

There were also angry protests from parents when some schools were threatened with the axe previously.

Ironically, the council is in the running for the prize of the UK’s best local authority with 10 nominations from the Association of Public Service Excellence.

The council says it will be looking at the proposals early in order to allow as much planning time as possible before implementing any cuts next year.