Labour group leader Bore urges more transparency in budget cutting process
Labour group leader Albert Bore has urged Birmingham City Council to adopt a more transparent approach to its budget process, warning that morale among employees of council is moving towards an all time low.
“You’ll get a greater despair and despondency amongst employees of City Council and already that’s a mood which is bubbling away underneath the surface and that’s because people are not sure if there jobs are safe. If 26,000 employees of this Council have received Section 188 notices that is going to drive some fear in people’s minds,” Bore said.
Bore made his comments as the latest in a steady stream of Section 188 redundancy notices was issued. Eighty employees are expected to be affected by Council’s decision to reduce the network of 25 Neighbourhood Offices to 13 Customer Service Centres supported by a handful of Neighbourhood Offices.
The Birmingham Post reported this weekend that Council is planning to axe the trailblazing Anti-Social Behaviour Unit after redundancy notices were issued covering all 58 council employees working for the Safer Birmingham Partnership.
The Birmingham Post also reported bin men facing a £4000 pay cut have voted to go on strike with members of GMB voting 97 percent in favour of job action.
Bore, who was council leader from 1999 to 2004 said budget making has been a backroom exercise in Birmingham for several decades with administrations of all political stripes and said it's time for a more open dialogue with the work force and the trade unions.
“When you’re engaged in an exercise such as they’re engaged in at the moment of taking out probably in excess of ten percent of the revenue budget... you’ve got to have some transparency otherwise you’re going to get a work force....a group of residents who are going to be in total deadlock with the City Council of what it is they are doing,”Bore said.
As job losses mounted, Birmingham’s Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition issued no public statements on the budget cuts for 37 days, since news releases on 20 October following Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement of £83 billion in cuts in the Comprehensive Spending Review.
Late Friday afternoon, Council made public a letter to all employees from Chief Executive Stephen Hughes who discussed a “significant reduction in the workforce” which he described as “painful and difficult”.
Hughes promised widespread and detailed consultation on the budget proposals with all Councillors, staff, unions, suppliers, the general public and business within the next "week or so”.
"I believe it is important that staff are told as soon as possible what the shape of the changes are likely to be, both so that you can contribute to the consultation, and so that you can think about and begin to plan your own futures,” Hughes said
Hughes said there will be greater clarity on 2 December when the Government announces the Revenue Support Grant for 2011/12.