VACANCIES at Slough Borough Council (SBC) may be at risk as major restructuring works will soon get underway.
A 47-day consultation will be conducted on November 4 for officers to review posts within SBC to see if roles could be deleted and employees redeployed into outstanding vacant posts or roles occupied by agency staff.
This phase two restructure – which looks into roles below the senior management team – may save SBC approximately £4.3 million and a majority of these savings will be made from less reliance on agency staff.
It was heard at an employment and appeals committee on October 20 (Tuesday) that it is not known how many people this will affect – but it is not “anticipated” there will be large scale redundancies.
These changes are to create a new operating model called a “one council” staff team approach to meet the rising demand for Slough’s key services – such as adult social care – as government funding is slashed.
This new model involves creating support for residents to “self-service” their needs by providing them information “at the front door” and if that doesn’t help, they can be moved to the customer contact centre to handle their query.
If a resident’s case is too complicated, they will then go to a first-line caseworker or a complex caseworker if there’s multiple issues to deal with.
The associate director for customers, Surjit Nagra, said this will cut the admin part for staff like social care workers so they can focus on their primary tasks.
Members of the committee pointed out there have been known vacant posts for over a year – and it has overwhelmed council officers’ who have had to sort out problems reported by members on other panels.
Councillor Christine Hulme (Labour: Central) said it was “driving everybody nuts” that SBC has taken so long to advertise vacant posts such as for a parking engineer.
She said: “We can’t progress our policies on the council while we have outstanding posts like this when we’re trying to get things moving for our residents and I do not understand how it can take a year to put an advert out for an engineer.”
Councillor Dexter Smith (Conservative: Colnbrook with Poyle) asked if there was a “recruitment freeze” while the council is undergoing the phase two programme.
He said: “We’re trying to deliver services to residents – which they pay for out of their council tax – and its not their fault that we’re restructuring and we shouldn’t be in a position where the council can’t deliver basic services because it doesn’t have the people to do them.”
Surjit Nagra said there is no freeze on recruiting staff for all roles including the “hard to recruit” posts.