Hundreds of council officers could be made redundant if Hertfordshire unitary proposal goes ahead

PUBLISHED: 10:30 30 July 2020 | UPDATED: 10:30 30 July 2020

Borough and district council officers could be made redundant by the proposals. Picture: Archant.

Borough and district council officers could be made redundant by the proposals. Picture: Archant.

Archant

Hundreds of local government jobs could be axed if a new unitary authority was created in Hertfordshire, a report suggests.

Currently Hertfordshire’s existing ‘two-tier’ system of local government includes 10 district and borough councils and the county council but exploratory work by PwC suggests replacing them with a transformed ‘unitary’ authority could save up to £142m year.

And that February report – commissioned by the county – shows that £68m of those savings would come from reduced staffing costs, equating to the loss of hundreds of jobs across the local government sector.

The work does not outline exactly how those staff savings could be made or the overall number of posts involved.

But in some ‘stretch’ scenarios the report suggests the number of staff in ‘back office’ functions could be cut by 32 per cent and front office roles by 20 per cent.

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council has said it is “far too early to talk about specific job numbers” and that it “would not be appropriate to do so”.

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But leader of the county council Cllr David Williams has said there would be a will to minimise the impact on staff, across all councils, should a unitary system be introduced.

“People who work in local government will have seen local government reform happen in other areas,” he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

“And they will appreciate there is a trend here in terms of how local government is likely to be re-organised over the course of this parliament.

“Inevitably when looking at change there will be an element of uncertainty.”

Cllr Williams says a single management team – rather than one for every council – would mean fewer senior staff in a unitary model but he suggests significant change could be brought about through “natural wastage”.

And he also points to past success in staff moving from one area of the council to another where needed.

The 71-page report, ‘Local Government Reform in Hertfordshire’, by PwC considers three different options for the future of the county.

Those options are greater collaboration under the existing two-tier system, the creation of a single unitary authority and the creation of two unitary authorities.


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