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.

2 comments:

  1. I think saving jobs is important.....but why do I feel that the proposed cuts will go ahead anyway?
    Sorry, folks, I just cannot see the powers that be missing an opportunity to make all the savings that have been suggested. I'll be mightily surprised if they don't.

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  2. Whilst realising the gravity of the financial situation that we all find ourselves in, I am particularly incensed by the double pain that is being inflicted on us - firstly the two year pay freeze i.e a pay cut, and secondly a freeze on increments. The years of saying how the Council values their employees, wants them to progress, wants to achieve 'Investors in People' and show that we work for a 'world class organisation' are all very hollow rhetoric at the end of the day. I feel very disillusioned and demotivated just at a time when I have to contend with yet another reorganisation and extra duties. It may not be a popular view, but keep performance related increments and at least give us some incentive. With all the investment in managerial training, the Council and unions, should be in a position to support them and let them manage aggressively, really improve everyone's performance and thus their security. The alternative is a very lithargic workforce who have no drive to improve with dire consequences.

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