Save a job by saving money

AnnieM, March 2, 2010

And so the job-cutting speculation has officially started. Will they? Won’t they? Will it be thousands? or, as some economists warn, could figures reach hundreds of thousands? Tension is growing in the lead up to the General Election (which may even be called earlier than May if the polls continue to show close party leads).

The Guardian warns that 170,000 jobs are likely to be cut in the next few years. Birmingham Council is set to axe 2,000 jobs and Nottinghamshire Council plans to cut 1,500 jobs. Job cuts are deemed ‘necessary’ if councils are to adapt to significant budget decreases in the coming years. For some councils, job losses have almost become a knee-jerk reaction to maximising on savings. Such blinkered attitudes are clearly not helpful and simply making thousands redundant could be a false economy: redundancy is expensive, and rightfully so.

Yet there is another way. It may not be the knight in shining armour that saves the public sector from its debt deficit, but it could save local councils millions, if not more. And if adopted across the board, jobs could actually be preserved rather than lost.

Total Place

Thought up by London Councils, the organisation that produced The Manifesto for Londoners, Total Place emphasises the importance of sharing within local authorities. By sharing a wide range of services, process and back-office systems, duplication within local government is radically reduced. The Total Place approach looks at the bigger picture, encompassing all aspects of local government including PCTs and housing authorities rather than looking at different aspects in isolation. Local authorities, notorious for their duplicated and beaurocratic processes, resulting in huge wastes in time and resources, will be therefore much improved.

Total Place is a necessary step in public sector reform and a huge leap towards the London Councils own proposal as set out in their Manifesto for Londoners. In terms of widespread approval, the scheme championed by Whitehall is embraced by all political parties.   Currently, it is being piloted in thirteen London areas, where it assesses the needs of local people, how public money is spent in these areas and which services can be shared and integrated to maximise on efficiency.

Scaremongering

And whilst some claim that the recent job cut speculation is just meaningless ‘scaremongering’ fuelled by the Conservatives, job losses are going to take place, and unless schemes like Total Place are implemented and soon, redundancy figures are going to rocket to unprecedented heights. Alternative cost-saving initiatives are definitely the way forward: job losses are not.

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