HARINGEY COUNCIL CHIEF EXEC’S BLOG
This is the text from the Chief Executive’s first blog, which is on Harinet (the staff website).
Well here I am entering the world of social networking technology to try and improve communication as we face the challenging times ahead. This is my first ever blog, so please bear with me as I evolve my style and get the content right. Please feel free to let me have any feedback on style and /or content.
In the past fortnight I have held six ‘face to face‘ workshops which have involved about 750 staff. I really enjoyed these and was encouraged by the attitude of colleagues to the current situation, as well as the quality of the questions and the suggestions. I thought it would be helpful if I repeated the main messages.
The government’s recent Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) has set us an unprecedented and major challenge. It is not only the overall size of budget cut we are facing but the fact that it is heavily front loaded, meaning we have to make the biggest cuts in 2011/12.
Whilst we are still analysing the detail, and waiting for the actual figures to arrive in early December, we are seriously concerned that the CSR, plus the budget pressures we already face in Adult, Children’s and Housing services, means we will have to cut around £50-£60 million from our 2011/12 budget.
That means we have to find 20% savings from a total annual budget of £250 million for local services – and we have to find it quickly.
What does this mean for local services and council jobs? It means that we are going to have to work harder than ever to maintain our values and priorities – not least protecting services for vulnerable people who rely on our support the most.
It also means that we’ll have to change the way we work – to get as much value as possible for every pound we spend – and it’s inevitable that this will have a serious knock-on effect on staffing.
As I said at the outset, I want to be straight with you, and our best estimates are that we’ll probably have to look at losing upwards of 600-1000 jobs as a result of the unprecedented cuts we are currently facing.
We will of course do what we can to cushion the impact of job losses, by consulting with staff and your representatives; by introducing a fair redeployment programme; and by giving you all an opportunity to suggest ways we can work smarter and more efficiently.
We will also ensure that we delete vacant posts before those which are occupied. Please look at the package of support that is now available for staff and managers on Harinet.
Our first task will be to reduce spending plans for 2011/12 substantially. Our second task, however, remains the development and implementation of a managed programme of change through which we develop the Council in the light of changes in both funding and policy.
The latter is of course the other challenge that we face. The government has already announced new policies affecting schools, regeneration, housing, benefits and of course the health service. These changes also have implications for how we work and our future structure.
So I continue to work with both the administration and colleagues on our change programme. One major part of this programme will be the Haringey Efficiency and Savings Programme which I hope we will formally launch in December.
We also need to think about our communities during this period. I am looking forward to the results of the Shaping our Future survey which is on our website. If you are a resident please take time to respond.
I met a group of pensioners this week who were clear that they still wanted safe and clean streets, places to meet and opportunities for them to exercise and to learn. Matching the community’s ambitions, and wants, to available resources is going to be a real challenge.
I’ll keep you in touch with developments in the weeks ahead, via this blog and other channels such as Harinet, Smart Talk and Team Brief.
Please let me have your feedback, either by posting a comment on this blog or participating in initiatives such as the Harinet staff suggestion scheme, which has been a source of many good ideas in recent weeks.
Finally, let me say I appreciate that this is a very difficult time for our workforce and I’d like to say a big thank you to people who are working hard each and every day for the council and the local community.