A decision to recruit a third £73,000-a-year assistant director for Birmingham City Council’s human resources department has sparked a bitter row.
Tory council leaders say the new post is essential to drive forward a business transformation project, which is supposed to save £1 billion over a 10-year period by investing in new IT systems and more efficient methods of working.
The successful candidate will join two existing HR assistant directors, Bill Fletcher and Tarik Chawdry, with the director of human resources and equalities, Andy Albon, continuing to head up the department.
Whoever is appointed will be expected to provide employment relations advice and work closely with cabinet member Alan Rudge.
But opposition Labour group leader Sir Albert Bore said it was “unbelievable” that an existing employee could not be promoted to fill the position.
The new post is the latest example of a recruitment drive in an attempt to meet business transformation savings targets.
Earlier this month the council advertised nationally for HR professionals on salaries ranging from £23,00 to £70,000.
The aim is to establish a “talent bank” of human resources experts, employed on temporary and fixed-term contracts, who can be called upon during peaks in the business transformation workload, a spokesman said.
Sir Albert (Lab Ladywood) said he could see no end to the growth of the HR department, which already employs about 12 per cent of the council’s non-teaching staff and is one of the largest units of its kind in any public authority. A proposal to create a new assistant director post was put before the council’s JNC committee, which deals with the appointment of senior officials.
Sir Albert, a member of the committee, said he was given no information about how the new post would fit in with the existing structure.
He added: “I strongly oppose the recruitment of another assistant director. It is impossible to see how spending money in this way can be justified when business transformation is meant to provide efficiency savings.
“I can see there might be a need for some temporary staff to take us through this period but I do not believe long term that we need to change the structure of the human resources department.
“There is no indication how many people are to be recruited for the talent bank, which I find worrying since the council already employs many more HR staff than comparable authorities.”
The row is the latest incident in a stream of claims about the cost of business transformation. Private sector outsourcing firm Capita and its partner organisations are being paid almost £200million to show the council how to save money and run services more efficiently.