Herts County Council will avoid compulsory redundancies “wherever possible” as part of ongoing review

That’s what councillors have been told as ‘organisational resourcing’ review continues
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Herts County Council will avoid compulsory redundancies “wherever possible” as part of its ongoing ‘organisational resourcing’ review, councillors have been told.

A team of consultants has already been brought-in to look at staffing, processes and the use of technology.

And that work – designed to cut council costs by up to £16m a year – is expected to lead to a reduction in staff by 400.

Hertfordshire County CouncilHertfordshire County Council
Hertfordshire County Council

At a meeting of HCC’s employment committee on Monday (February 26) councillors were told that compulsory redundancies would be avoided “wherever possible”.

Updating councillors on the ongoing review, deputy chief executive Scott Crudgington pointed to the council’s growing workforce and the financial challenges faced by the council.

He said ‘financial headwinds’ for local government continued to be “extremely difficulty” – with the council looking to use £11m reserves in 2024/5 and make savings of £46m

And he said the current number of employees – which has grown to 8800 in the wake of the pandemic – was unsustainable in the long term.

He suggested that delivering £8m of savings in 24/25 – rising to £16m in subsequent years – would require a reduction of approximately 400 FTEs.

But he said turnover of existing staff and succession planning within the organisation would offer the sort of flexibility needed to minimise the level of compulsory redundancies.

And he warned against interpreting the need to reduce staff numbers as “simply 400 redundancies”.

“If anything, one of the things that we need to do as an organisation is to avoid compulsory redundancies wherever possible,” he said.

“We need to use the opportunities the vacancy freeze has brought about that gives us some flexibility.”

As well as cutting costs, it was reported to councillors that the review was about embracing innovation, removing frustrating processes and improving colleague experience.

And in response to a question from Labour Cllr Nigel Bell, Mr Crudgington said the intention of the review was not to impact on front-line service delivery.

He said some processes may be “streamlined”, but that the intention was not to take staff or capacity away from front-line service delivery.

Meanwhile leader of the county council Cllr Richard Roberts acknowledged that in some areas of the council there were vacancies and said that the review would balance recruitment need.

“I want to say a massive thank you to our staff who are operating over 500 services,” said Cllr Roberts.

“And a lot of those services – demand led – are running quite hot. In other words demand is high.

“And whilst today we are talking about reducing the numbers of staff, in other areas we have recruitment deficits, we have vacancies, of some 800.

“And I think part of this reorganisation will be balancing that recruitment need, that scarcity, alongside making sure our organisation is entirely fit for purpose.”

Overall £16m has been allocated to the review. And of this £3m has been awarded in a contract to consultants PricewaterhouseCooper.

Earlier this month the county council set a £1.1bn budget for services next year (24/25) – which is £98m more than in 23/24.

But in order to do so it has had to use £11m of reserves, increase council tax by 4.99 per cent and identify £46m of savings.