All posts tagged 'job-losses'

Will KCC find enough people to provide its youth services?

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Tuesday, July 12 2011

There is, unsurprisingly, some positive rhetoric around the county council's plans to revamp its youth services.

Major revamp of youth services planned: read our story>>>

We are told, in a lengthy and often confusing report, that it is about “the vision for the transformation of Kent Youth Service and the innovative model of service delivery” and a plan that “combines excellence in direct delivery with commmissioned local providers to deliver creative approaches for young people to engage in youth work opportunities in their communities.” Phew.

The bits about potential job losses, the closure of a raft of youth centres and the signficant risk that there may nto be enough providers out there to take on all the current activities that KCC provides are not easily found.

But they merit attention, especially the question of whether KCC can successfully outsource to other organisations. On this, the report is circumspect, admitting: "It is unknown at this stage how many newly commissioned projects will replace those which are directly delivered following consultation" and can only sat that "it is anticipated that a greater number of smaller projects will replace the current delivery pattern."

In another section, it says where KCC is no longer the provider via youth centres, alternatives could be continued through newly-commissioned providers - note the element of uncertainty.

The most telling comment comes in a section headed "Risk and Business Continuity Management" where the council states: "There is a significant risk to the quality and capacity of service delivery at the outset of the Commissioning Model."

Interestingly, KCC also seems prepared to accept that it might actually have to provide money to some of these new social entrepeneurs to get them on to a sound footing. And how are they proposing this? "The process may require access to Kent's Big Society Fund and other sources for newly-created social enterprises."

So, youth services are being outsourced to save money but in order to save that money, KCC may be in the odd position of giving financial support to the organisations that take on this work.

Is youth services being used by Kent as a test bed for the Big Society? The authority has allocated £5m to its own fund and clearly would want to see some results from a decision that some have found a little odd. 

I have no idea whether KCC's vision for its youth services will work and even less idea about whether it will result in better services. But there are clearly some doubts if you examine the language used by the council in its report. 

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Categories: Politics

No pain, no gain as KCC casts around for £95m savings

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, January 7 2011

There was such a blizzard of figures and statistics at KCC's press conference to launch its budget that it was tricky to determine just what the full implications of the ruling administration's spending plans actually might be. (There wasn't an awful lot of time to read through the 218-page book on the budget amid the Powerpoint presentations and videos).

The key messages were that KCC is to become a leaner and more "entrepeneurial" organisation that would be resolutely "driving out efficiency savings" - a phrase that always conjures up an image of profligate bureaucrats being shepherded across a bridge and harried relentlessly to cut costs.

The other top line being pushed by KCC was that it was delivering a budget that, despite being cut by £95m, safeguarded core frontline services.

Indeed, council leader Paul Carter challenged anyone to discover whether there were any services that the council currently provides but wouldn't be from April, when the new financial year gets underway.

Quite how much 'leaner' KCC intends to get was a little hard to pin down as it emerged during the press conference that it doesn't yet know how many jobs will go and how many posts will be axed as part of the 1,500 expected to disappear between now and 2014.

There was also a lot of rhetoric about the council delivering services in new and different and 'innovative' ways (interestingly, there's £5m being set aside for a 'Big Society' bank) but frankly, there wasn't a huge amount of detail offered on this either so it's hard to make a judgement at this point.

I suppose a lot depends on how residents feel the impact of KCC's savings package. Take the issue of the Freedom Pass, for example. It is not being cut (it was apparently considered) but the administration fee is doubling to £100.

True, there are safeguards for those on free school meals who will continue to pay £50 and looked after children will pay nothing but I imagine there will be quite a lot of parents with more than one child who will baulk at having to write a cheque for £200-£300 in the current climate. I don't dissent from KCC's view that the pass has been a great success (possibly too successful) but some may see the hike as rather opportunistic - it's not as if the process of administering the fee has changed to become more burdensome on the authority.

And those who rely on rural buses to get them out and about may find they no longer run if KCC proceeds with a plan to withdraw £629,000 from "socially necessary but uneconomic bus routes that provide the least added value."

A cut? I suppose that given that KCC will continue to subsidise other bus routes, then no - but a saving that will reduce services, nevertheless.

As ever, the devil is in the detail. Here are a few other ways in which KCC will be saving money that I've spotted:


£200,000 less on members’ allowances
£123,000 cut on budget for 'Around Kent' magazine
£100,000 less on public consultation
£300,000 less on £2m book fund for libraries
£231,000 less spent on maintaining public footpaths
£280,000 less on waste recycling centres

and

£2.25million saving on "reviewing terms and conditions of employment." 

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If some of the rhetoric about the budget announcement had a familiar ring to it, it may be because similar language was used when KCC made its budget announcement last year.

A press release issued then described how "the council has focused upon ensuring the organisation is lean, flexible and ready to respond to the future financial restraint" and "it is notable that the proposals published today have little impact on frontline services, with savings focusing upon further efficiencies and innovative approaches to delivery." 

Still, good to see a commitment to recycling.

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Local Politics | Politics | Public Sector

KCC begins to weigh up cuts options

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, October 22 2010

It's the annual meeting of the Kent Conservatives at County Hall today with Conservative county councillors and MPs meeting up for what might normally be a convivial occasion but this year, one that is taking place against the backdrop of the ominous shadow cast by the spending review. So I imagine some of the small talk might have been rather tense and a little less euphoric than it might have been just a few months after the party's general election triumph.

1,500 jobs could go at County Hall>>>

Now that the dust has settled a little, KCC is weighing up exactly what it should do to fill its black hole of £340m. And it seems that axe is poised to fall on rather a sizeable number of jobs - an estimated 1,500 according to leader Paul Carter.  They won't all go in one fell swoop, of course but the impact is going to be fairly significant.

Of course, we can expect to see KCC trying to mitigate the impact by pointing to the fact that it has had a recruitment freeze in place for some time and that while jobs might have to go, it won't necessarily equate to actual people. However, there's a touch of smoke and mirrors around the concept of a freeze on new jobs - KCC estimates a £340m shortfall but hasn't said whether it would be larger or smaller on the strength of not filling posts. I suspect the savings have already been factored in to the £340m figure.

I'm not entirely convinced by the government's belief that the private sector will take up some of the slack and absorb some of these job losses when they come. People who work in local government often have a particular skills set that doesn't always sit comfortably with openings with private companies. And don't forget, all parts of the public sector in Kent will be shedding jobs - not just KCC.

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Kent's very own renegade veteran MP Sir John Stanley was on fine form at last night's KCC rail summit, delivering a withering attack on Southeastern rail chiefs over their failure to restore services from west Kent to the City and doing an impeccable hatchet job on the plans to increase rail fares by three per cent.

After Charles Horton, Southeastern's MD, had delivered his own predictably up-beat assessment of the rail operator's performance, up jumped Sir John with a no-holds barred attack, accusing the company of "zero listening" - not sure what that means but he said it with such passion that we all knew what he was driving at - and accusing it of messing up people's lives by forcing them  to drive to all corners of the county to get on trains to get to London.

MPs fight fare hike>>>

The wily Sir John has, rather like Ann Widdecombe, the willingness to say what he thinks without particularly worrying about whether it will get him into trouble which makes him all the more entertaining - and he's at a point in his long career when he's probably beyond the point where he is expecting some preferment. A fine example that some of Kent's newly-elected backbenchers ought perhaps to follow but I suspect probably won't.

Having said that, both Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford) and the independently-minded Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood) have at least signed an EDM criticising the planned increase in rail fares. I wonder if any other Kent MPs will join them?

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Categories: Local Politics | National Politics | Politics

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