Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Council staff help Cornwall with £5.4 million of savings

Cornwall Council's staff have stepped up to the plate and look set to agree a new pay package which will secure £5.4 million of savings for the authority. At the same time, the council will be implementing the living wage as the minimum for its staff.

Over the next four years, Cornwall Council must save £196 million. Ultimately, much of this money must come from cuts to services, but the council is determined to make savings from 'back office' functions and administration where possible. The council has been in discussions with staff and unions for some time to see what deal might be possible on pay and conditions. The package announced today is the result.

As a first step, the council cut the pay of the chief executive and slimmed down from six directorates to three. This will save £400,000 and it is important that the direction and leadership is shown right from the top.

The new package commits the council to maintaining national pay and conditions but changes the locally agreed pay elements with a deferral of the 'contribution related pay' scheme for three years.

The decision to adopt the living wage is important too. It shows our commitment as an employer to making sure that our staff at the bottom end of the pay tree have a decent standard of living. It will apply to all directly employed staff except those employed on apprenticeship schemes (although it should be noted that the council pays more than the basic apprenticeship wage to these employees).

The new package has been supported by the unions and will be recommended by them in the required ballot of members. I think they have been pragmatic in these discussions (as they have been in the past too), getting a good deal for both taxpayers and staff with the minimum of fuss and no disruption to services.

There will, of course, be more savings to come from staff pay as the further cuts that are necessary will inevitably mean staff losses at the council. But this deal will help to ensure that more frontline services are preserved than might have been the case if no deal could have been reached.

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