Senior officer moment

UNISON have been asking some useful questions about senior officers’ fat cat six-figure salaries down at the Counts Louse.

Possibly overlooked in the frenzy over Tesco at Ashton Gate and Steve Lansdown’s admission that his £60m stadium, as predicted, is actually going to cost someone £90m – a fact still blithely ignored by that lazy sod of a political journalist at the Cancer, Ian Onions – UNISON asked the last cabinet meeting this (pdf):

Q: Business Transformation was anticipated to slim line management for cost savings; therefore how can 3rd tier posts and above have increased along with salaries and how can we, as a trade union in these economic times, endorse an approximate 30% salary increase for the Chief and Deputy Executive and the rest of the workforce only get 2%?

Where are the savings if we, not only lost many 3rd tier and above employees and had to pay out redundancy, but then employ more than we had before on higher wages?

This elicited the following rather evasive response:

A: Reductions in posts as a result of restructuring are largely being implemented in 2009/10, and therefore one would expect this to be reflected in the comparable information in the accounts for this year. Therefore, savings will arise in 2009/10 rather than 2008/09.

The rationale for increasing the salary range of the post of Chief Executive was set out in the report to HR Committee in September 2007, and was the subject of consultation at that time. The salary increase reflecting the enhanced role set out for this post, and reflected independent advice received from the Council’s consultants.

The post of Deputy Chief Executive was a new post created as part of the management restructuring of the Council, the grade and salary of which was set by the HR Committee. Therefore, no previous pay/grading level for this post existed. The salary increase quoted by UNISON is erroneous. The Council’s management restructuring was also the subject of consultation prior to approval of the new structure.

I see. So “savings will arise in 2009/10 rather than 2008/09” will they?

Fair point. But since UNISON are asking questions on a ‘Revenue budget 2009/10 – monitoring report’ and we’re now six months in to that period why aren’t these savings apparent yet? Will they magically appear over the next six months?

Who knows? But it looks like UNISON’s questions have rattled the council’s greedy boss class because a Human Resources Committee Meeting the following week had the following agenda item and report: ‘Review of 1st – 3rd Tier Management Restructure‘ (pdf) hurriedly tacked on the end.

And what gems there are to be found, such as this:

1st Tier

There has been a net reduction of 1 post, discounting the Strategic Director: Transformation which is funded on a fixed term basis from reserves. Four 1st tier officers were displaced. Two have been seconded to organisations/roles for fixed term periods and two have left on the grounds of early retirement due to redundancy.

Read that carefully. So far there’s been no net reduction in posts whatsoever and we learn that of the four officers replaced in the last 18 months two have actually been employed by the council elsewhere on the same salaries, which means that, er … there’s been a net increase of two posts paying top-whack six-figure salaries!

Let’s move on:

2nd Tier

There has been a reduction of 5.8 FTE posts. However, as a consequence of the selection process for new roles in the structure, five post holders have left on the grounds of early retirement due to redundancy, and two have left on the grounds of redundancy without pension release. In addition, two staff have been seconded to other roles (one of whom has been seconded to a role outside of the Council). There are also two displaced employees currently occupying interim roles.

Here we go again. “There has been a reduction of 5.8 FTE posts”. Except “two staff have been seconded to other roles” and “two displaced employees currently occupy interim roles”. That’s a reduction of 1.8 posts then.

And so on to the 3rd tier … Where we learn “There has been a reduction of 5.7 FTE posts”. Except there hasn’t of course because “The remaining staff are being considered for redeployment or undertaking project/interim management”. On exactly the same wages, naturally. In fact we’re told “There has been an increase in the pay bill of £254K per annum”!

The document then goes on to show us a load of spreadsheets meant to explain how much of our money will be saved by raising the boss class’s salaries. Alas, it’s of little use in the real world because they forgot to include the seconded staff, the “interim roles” the redeployments and any “project/interim management” roles.

Worth every penny aren’t they?

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7 Responses to Senior officer moment

  1. inks says:

    “There has been a net reduction of 1 post, discounting the Strategic Director… ”

    Lol! Now that line takes a certain genius.

    From the report:

    “The overall costs of the new management structure generate ongoing
    savings of £966k pa and have been taken into account in financial
    plans for 2010/11 onwards… ”

    This sounds credible. The costs of the secondments should, and are, being met through the budget of whoever they’re seconded to, so don’t show up in this figure.

    Although there’s probably a bit of cheating – the seconded staff are likely to be higher paid than whatever role they’re now fulfilling so a budget somewhere is taking a hit.

    “Therefore, savings will arise in 2009/10 rather than 2008/09”

    This seems incorrect to me, the claimed savings are in 2010/11 not 2009/10.

  2. thebristolblogger says:

    This sounds credible.

    Depends what you call credible. A lot of people might find it incredible. You need to look at the figure for “displacements” vs redundancies/retirement to see what’s really gone on:

    1st tier:

    4 displacements vs 2 redundancies = +2

    2nd tier:

    4 displacements vs 7 redundancies = -3

    3rd tier:

    26 displacements vs 3 redundancies = +23

    So from a process that promised to streamline management and save money, the council’s now employing 22 more managers, which must be at a greater cost than before.

    There are no savings here. They’ve just ringfenced the planned savings into the “budget” and left the costs out.

    This isn’t even a clever accounting trick. It’s just dishonest.

    The costs of the secondments should, and are, being met through the budget of whoever they’re seconded to, so don’t show up in this figure.

    Salary costs are met by the directorate responsible (eg. the education budget pays for all education managers). So all the management costs/savings should appear in that figure. There’s no separate management budget in the way they’re presenting it here.

  3. Anon says:

    And you expect honesty and accountability from Ormondroyd and co? Please, don’t make me laugh.

  4. inks says:

    Ish – it depends what they mean by “displacement”.

    If it means “re-deployed to a vacant post elsewhere in the council on the same terms and conditions (after a protected period) as if the post had been filled by a normal recruitment process” then no, the claimed reduction in posts is genuine I think.

    If they mean something else then you may well have a point, TBB.

    Can anybody clarify what is meant by “displacement” in this context and confirm the posts filled by displacement have all been budgetted for in the normal course of things with no additional costs as a result of the restructuring?

    The new structure looks PA heavy to me. I’d lose the PAs for the third tier and employ cheaper administrators. You’d probably get a better running organisation and save about £150,000.

    I note the pension packages don’t appear to have been costed in which might change the bottom line.

  5. thebristolblogger says:

    The questions you’re asking should be being asked by councillors on the Human Resources Committee.

    They are being asked by the GMB though. Here are a couple of their public forum questions (pdf) to the last Human Resources Committee:

    Agenda item 8 – Review of lst and 3rd Tier Management Restructure

    The GMB is seeking clarification on two issues:

    10. When a senior manager is unsuccessful (1st-3rd tier) some have become ‘interim managers’ surplus to the structure. Clearly we are keen for staff to retain employment but are intrigued how ‘savings’ are met. For example in Transformation one third tier manager was unsuccessful but is now an interim manger for two services, one of which already has two fourth tier managers. Therefore there is a situation where there are two third tier managers (the successful postholder and the unsuccessful manager – the other unsuccessful manager is working in another department at a lower level). A similar situation exists in the City Development service – a second tier officer who was unsuccessful is now an interim manager overseeing the museum service review, yet there is a second tier manager and third tier museum manager in post – how many more examples are there of this across the council?

    11 I cannot see any reference in the appendices to show this –
    apologies if they are there – are they counted as savings or part of the actual structure? How must is the actual cost of interim

    So what the council actually mean by “displacement” is anybody’s guess. But it’s instructive to look at what has already happened:

    The council, if we accept their figures at face value, are claiming they’ve cut 12.5 managerial posts (1 at 1st tier, 5.8 at 2nd tier, 5.7 at 2nd tier).

    But two first tier officers (Stephen Wray and Terry Wagstaff since you’re asking) have been “displaced” to secondments within the council. That reduces the cut to 10.5.

    At 2nd tier 3 have been “displaced” within the organisation (two “interim” posts and one secondment). That reduces the cut to 7.5 posts.

    At 3rd tier we learn that the pay bill’s increased by £254k. That’s equivalent to at least 3 FTE posts, which means that this cut is now about 4.5 posts and there’s still 26 managers ‘displaced’ in the system.

    Indeed, as things stand now, the council’s employing over 20 more managers than they were before!

    And since – so far – no manager has been redeployed in the way you describe, you’d have to be fairly optimistic to believe all the 26 remaining managers will be. Even then a cut of 4.5 posts, – taking into account pay rises of up to 30% – is likely to be financially negligble.

    Oh! And they’ve also just announced a new 2nd tier Neighbourhood Manager (pdf) post at a salary of £100k pa. So that’s just 3.5 posts actually cut then.

    Any claim that this process is saving us money is clearly nonsense. The claims of a more streamlined, efficient and more accountable management are even more dubious though.

    The proliferation of project managers, interim managers, strategic directors without portfolio and various other bolt-on managers actually creates huge levels of confusion and dispute and blurs lines of accountability.

    Although it is ideal for empire building, endless demarcation rows and – particularly – for creating intriguing little pots of money and budgets out of the way of prying eyes … It’s probably well worth keeping an eye on Stephen Wray’s Partnership Management non-department that’s running the World Cup bid to see how much cash is being tipped into that unaccountable budget on the sly.

    There’s also a political angle to this. This senior management reorganisation was supposed to be Ormondroyd’s ‘quick win’, demonstrating she was a new broom, with new management ideas capable of wielding the axe etc.

    Alas, what we’ve got here is a typical old local authority fudge, bodge and cover-up that’s not even been completed in 18 months. She’s just Pigfucker Gurney in a size 16 dress.

    Maybe it’s time she was made -1 FTE?

  6. dreamingspire says:

    Are they re-deploying in the hope that the staff concerned get another job somewhere else in the public sector and therefore resign? In other words, is that estimated to be cheaper than redundancy payments? (We used to hear from the Counts Louse that they couldn’t afford to make people redundant, but the reorganisation was supposed to make them do that.)

  7. thebristolblogger says:

    There doesn’t appear to be any plan around what to do with the leftovers does there?

    Bit of an oversight that from these business school-trained experts.

    Of course, the next big money saving plan is the call centre in Hengrove. That should be interesting …

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