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Southampton City Council shake-up may lead to 44 lost jobs
UP TO 44 jobs could be lost as part of a major shake-up at Southampton City Council.
The posts may be axed as part of the streamlining of four major council departments into one new directorate.
As previously reported in the Daily Echo, Labour city chiefs announced plans last year to merge the council’s adult, children’s, public health and housing services, as well as IT and customer services, into the new People Directorate.
Council leader Simon Letts described the new directorate as “the elixir we were all seeking – a better service at lower cost.”
They anticipate the new, streamlined directorate will save money for the cash-strapped authority, which has to make £60million of savings in the next three years, as well as providing a more efficient service for residents.
Work to create the new directorate is now well under way, and council chiefs have decided to bring forward plans to this financial year so savings can be fully realised in the 2014/15 financial year.
The People Directorate will be designed to deliver a “coherent link” between them, while council chiefs say it will help residents deal with issues and queries at first contact instead of having to go through several departments.
It has been taken over by people director Alison Elliott, who took up her £135,000-a-year post in April this year.
Among the new services to be provided as part of the People Directorate are a 0-25 multi-agency service for children and young people with disabilities, a redesign of the current payment and billing processes which formed 23 per cent of all adult services complaints received in 2012/23 and a modernisation of the housing department.
A new integrated commissioning unit will also be created alongside the NHS Southampton Clinical Commissioning Group which will work on public health issues and cost £125,000 a year.
But it is the job losses, which have been brought forward to this financial year, which have proven controversial.
Up to 39 management and residential and day care jobs, of which 20 are currently vacant, will go in the adult services department, saving £1.3million a year, while five manager positions will be cut in children’s services, saving £250,000.
Having now announced the potential job losses, civic chiefs will put the proposals out to consultation, before the wider People Directorate plans will come back before the full council later this year.
Council cabinet member for change Dan Jeffery said: “Over half of the roles affected are vacant or agency staff, and with the others we will do everything we can using our redeployment scheme to find suitable alternatives.”
Keith Morrell, leader of the Labour Councillors against the Cuts group, said: “The Labour administration is doing the Government’s dirty work.
This isn’t being driven by a desire for improvement, it’s being driven by having to bow to the Government’s slashing of local Government funding.”
Ian Woodland, from the Unite union, said the union was still reviewing its position, but added: “We want to make sure that we minimise the damage that these cuts do to the council and our members’ jobs.”
But Tory opposition leader Royston Smith said: “It is absolutely the council’s choice. They have ruled out sharing services and they have ruled out outsourcing, and you don’t need to lose jobs at this level.
“Labour promised no job losses but they reneged on that last year and they’ve reneged on it again now.”
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