Ten ways to tell that your local authority is facing a severe budget crisis
These are tough times for Local Government and it is about to get harder as the cuts really start to bite. Today we present our guide for how to tell if your authority is taking it harder than most.
1) Your Chief Executive Disappears
Suddenly, your effervescent and inspirational leader is locked in his office on the first floor only coming out for occasional photo shoots with the leader. His appearances in the canteen are rarer than the appearance of well cooked food.
2) Your Chief Executive is everywhere
Stress treats everyone differently and suddenly your Chief Executive is at every meeting, reassuring, sharing your pain and generally getting everyone ready for what she describes as ‘a very tough stretch.’
3) Trade Union Officials are never separated from their Job Evaluation manuals
Every restructure brings a fight over job grading and when there’s a fight over job grading theUnion are called in to try and write a new JD that fixes the problem. At the moment the Union guys are dealing with so many restructures they might as well be working in HR!
4) The communications talk more about leaving than staying
Advertising on council notice boards and in the canteen is all about Employee Assistance Schemes, CV writing workshops and the offer of advice about how to plan your retirement.
5) Home working is considered part of your ‘employee duty’ rather than a part of the work life balance
Suddenly reducing the number of desks in the local authority is a necessity and council managers will do everything they can to get their staff to work out of the office as often as possible. It’s not new but 70% occupancy targets are normal rather than revolutionary now.
6) The contracts for your consultants get shorter and shorter
In a time of massive budget cuts the council can’t bring itself to move away from bringing in consultants (we need help from someone, anyone… Please!) to help them find the savings but the contracts for these guys are shorter and more demanding. 3 weeks seems to be the new norm.
7) Service managers start muttering darkly about those ‘bloody increments’
Even the smallest things that might affect a managers budget are greeted with deep concern and previously accepted parts of local government life (like an increment) are seen as hand grenades making setting that budget even more difficult that it has otherwise been.
8) The head of procurement takes on an almost deity like position in the authority
All savings that can be made from goods and services (buying stuff) are savings that don’t need to be made elsewhere. Any help you can get to do that means one less job you might have to lose. Today is the age of the procurement head!
9) You get a random ‘catch all’ recruitment freeze.
It’s not sensible in any way shape or form but stuff it, if we use a little recruitment drag and saves the jobs of a few people here then why not? Areas with high turnover of staff tend to disagree but no pain no gain…
10) Providing a gold plated service is seen as a bad thing
Any service that provides a gold plated service is obviously spending too much right… What we need is cheap mediocrity at all times.
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