Councils in England will receive £200m next year to restructure the local government workforce and bring down long-term labour costs.
The “capitalisation” grant for 2011-12, announced as part of the Treasury’s comprehensive spending review, comes amid 28% cuts to council funding over the next four years.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said it expected that “many local authorities will have to restructure their workforce to live within this settlement”, with the £200m earmarked for “organisational restructuring” to help bring down long-term costs.
A statement highlighted examples of good practice such as councils merging back office functions and outsourcing services, and one former director of social services predicted many adult and children’s services departments would be restructured as a result.
“The £200m could be spent on re-skilling and re-training to prepare the workforce for new ways of working, supporting workers to start social enterprises, IT, commissioning skills, and market development to increase the choices available to service users,” said Vic Citarella, director of CPEA consultancy, and former director of social services at Liverpool Council.
Rather than resulting in widespread job losses, the restructures were more likely to lead to changes in job roles to support personalisation and different ways of delivering services, Citarella added.
“The paid workforce needs to move from one that provides care to one that supports those who provide care. For example, supporting carers, volunteer schemes, business grants – these are more effective methods.”
Some councils, such as West Sussex, are closing day centres for disabled people, and Citarella said they faced choices over how best to deploy the workforce whose jobs will be affected.
“If the day services are put out to tender, the workforce might be transferred to the new providers under Tupe (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations) regulations. But if they decided the centres were no longer needed and re-allocated funding into personal budgets, that could be more complex and could lead to job changes,” he said.
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