A policy of not replacing staff who leave and getting rid of expensive agency workers has cut Birmingham City Council’s annual wage bill by £10 million, it has been revealed.
Almost 2,000 jobs disappeared between April 2009 and March 2010 – about three per cent of the workforce – and the trend is likely to continue given the certainty of harsh public spending cuts over the next few years.
Leaders of the city’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition will meet in a two-day brainstorming session next week to consider how to protect front-line services in the current tough economic climate.
Cabinet human resources member Alan Rudge insists in his annual council report that staff are not being forced out against their will.
The number of compulsory redundancies remains low following a commitment to find alternative employment elsewhere in the council for employees whose jobs are at risk and three-quarters of all vacancies are filled internally, Coun Rudge added.
Managers wishing to replace staff must make the case to special recruitment panels which decide whether vacancies need to be filled.
Coun Rudge (Con Sutton Vesey) said: “I have promoted a policy of internal recruitment first to enable competent and skilled staff within the council to be given the opportunity to apply for posts prior to external advertisement.”
The number of outside agency staff hired, mainly in social services, has been reduced by 40 per cent saving £3 million.
Coun Rudge said investment in new computer systems for the HR department was making it far easier to track vacancy trends and monitor staff sickness levels.
This would lead to net savings of £86 million after the cost of the IT equipment is taken into account, he said.
Coun Rudge added: “The council is now able to predict and plan its workforce needs on a three-year basis. This is helping to build clearer insights into how gaps between projected service demands and workforce resources can be managed.”