Hull City Council prepares ground for £33m funding squeeze
THE start of a major overhaul of locally agreed terms and conditions for council workers in Hull is expected to be give the go-ahead next week.
Cabinet approval is required for negotiations to begin with the main trade unions at the Guildhall.
But agreement on the issue is likely to be a formality after being heavily trailed by interim chief executive Darryl Stephenson and council leader Steve Brady over the last few days.
Mr Stephenson made the first move in a global e-mail to all staff early last week.
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In it, he mapped out the context behind the pressing need to trim the authority's annual salary bill of about £160 million.
He told staff: "You may well ask 'Why are we doing this?' and I write to explain.
"You should be well aware of the financial challenges facing the council. On present information, which may get worse, in excess of £8 million has to be taken out of budgets in 2013-14 but, more importantly, in excess of £25 million in 2014-15."
According to Mr Stephenson, locally agreed deals covering mileage, overtime payments and enhanced voluntary redundancy packages currently offered by the council are all likely to be reviewed.
He said: "Some terms and conditions of city council employees can be seen as generous when compared to neighbouring authorities.
"What we will be seeking to negotiate are the same terms and conditionsemployees in those authorities enjoy, which are those negotiated with their trade unions.
"By saving money in this way we hope to reduce the effects of the financial squeeze on jobs and bring down the cost of services so they are competitive and can continue to be provided by the council and avoid having cuts in other areas.
"There will still be a need to re-engineer services so they are provided in the most cost-effective way."
Mr Stephenson also warned that other "unpalatable decisions" would be need to be taken over the next few weeks to address the continued funding squeeze being faced by the council.
Some of those are also on Monday's cabinet agenda, including cuts to jobs in the authority's waste collection service, the axing of school clothing grants and proposed new charges for people attending day centres.
Councillor Brady said the council was facing an unprecedented situation, with an estimated £100 million reduction in central funding over the current lifetime of this government.
"Nick Clegg might be saying sorry about tuition fees but there has been absolutely no apology from him for this.
"There have been drastic funding cuts to the poorest people in the community," he said.