Monday, 13 December 2010

Funding cuts not as deep as feared for OCC

The Department for Communities and Local Government have today announced the level of funding that Oxford City Council can expect over the next two financial years. The proposed increment freeze and level of job losses were based on the assumption that funding in 2011/12 and 2012/13 would be £12.4million and £11.48million respectively. The actual figures announced today, of £13.305million and £11.73million mean Oxford City Council should be £1.25million better off than expected by March 2013.

If you, like us, spend your spare time looking at the Council website, you may have noticed Appendix 4 of the council budget (here). You can see that some of the job cuts have asterisks at the end of the line, to indicate they are a direct result of the central government cuts in Council funding. Sadly, those without asterisks are cuts that have been made anyway. So the 23 jobs under threat in Customer Services, for instance, will not be saved by this latest announcement.

However, this must be good news for Environmental Development, City Development and Community Housing and Development, all of which were facing job losses as a direct result of the predicted cuts in funding. 17.7 FTE posts were proposed to go in these sections, broken down as 6.4 (ED) 7.5 (CD) and 3.8 (CH&D). It is hoped that the additional £1,250,000 means most, if not all, these jobs can now be saved.

Further to this, we are asking questions about reserves the council can draw on. This year, the council budgeted to bank £1,256,000 at year end. We understand they probably won't achieve this but, at such a difficult time, while the Council's reserves are healthy, rather than putting any more money aside, we believe the council should be looking to spend a little of its reserves, in line with their commitment to world class services and stated opposition to compulsory redundancies. And, while Oxford City UNISON has never previously agreed with Eric Pickles, this is also the advice from central government.

Whilst we appreciate the need to maintain sensible reserves for an uncertain future, we think the Council's Labour Group should take some comfort from the knowledge that, the way things are going, this lot won't be setting public sector budgets for very much longer.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Letter from Council Leader to UNISON

The branch committee, at our meeting on 25 November, agreed to write to the Council's Labour Group, ahead of their recent meeting at which they discussed the draft budget. We reasserted UNISON's opposition to all compulsory redundancies, asked that any cuts affecting jobs and terms and conditions would be subject to negotiation and that consultants not be kept on if the cost meant a permanent member of staff losing their job. We also asked the Labour Group's support for a full branch meeting of UNISON members on 22nd December.
The letter we received from Council Leader, Cllr Bob Price, reads:

I can happily confirm that the Group is as strongly opposed to compulsory redundancies as UNISON, particularly in circumstances where they are forced upon us by the Government's determination to rapidly reduce the range and quality of public services. Our assessment is that if the coalition had not heavily "front-loaded" the cuts, we could have avoided any need for compulsory redundancies at all.

We will be doing our best throughout the budget reduction process to secure staffing savings through natural turnover and voluntary redundancy. We have also been bearing down on the employment of agency staff and consultants and will continue to do so.

I have asked the Chief Executive and CMT to facilitate staff release for the meeting that you intend to hold on December 22nd. As Peter Sloman has made clear in his staff meetings, the members of Council and senior officers place great value on the maintenance of an open and honest dialogue with UNISON and with all members of staff. The contribution the staff have already made since we took control in 2008 to securing major efficiency gains and major service improvements is warmly appreciated. That partnership and mutuality will be severely tested by the savage cuts imposed by the Coalition, but we will play our part in maintaining the commitment that we all have for the provision of world-class services and good conditions of employment. We will not renege on our living wage commitments, nor on our commitment to minimising compulsory redundancies.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Price
Leader of the Council

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Welcome to Oxford City UNISON's blog

This is the new website for news from Oxford City UNISON.

Our first post will go up following the next branch committee meeting on Thursday 30 September 2010.

UNISON members and other friends are free to comment on our posts.

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