Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Day of the (not quite so) long knives at City Hall

Katherine Barney is one of the journalists at the Evening Standard who generally does a good job, but her City Hall job cuts story today was pretty shoddy:

"CITY Hall staff today told of a "climate of fear" as up to 120 positions were cut as a result of Boris Johnson's restructuring plans."

Now I'm willing to accept that this was mostly the fault of the sub-editors, but Boris is not axing '120 jobs' or anything like it.

In fact the grand total of 'real' jobs lost under these plans is just 45.

Now obviously if you're one of those 45, then it's terrible news, but it hardly amounts to a climate of fear within an organisation employing around fifteen times that many people.

On the other hand, being told by the Standard that 120 jobs are up for the axe (when they're not) may have gone some way to actually creating that climate of fear. 

A fact not missed by one commenter:

Cuts for cuts sake?

Now I'm willing to accept that some of these job cuts may have been necessary. 

But for an organisation which Boris has repeatedly described as massively overstaffed these are minor, tokenistic changes that Boris has made.

And with the salaries of his own Deputies and appointments, mysteriously unaffected by the downturn, there will be many who wonder just why Boris has decided to do this right now.

-Reactions and Links-


Lib Dems (press release) said...

Mike Tuffrey, leader of the London Assembly Liberal Democrat Group, commenting on today’s announcement about job losses at City Hall said:

“The real test of these savings is whether City Hall continues to provide effective strategic government for London.

"If staff with valuable expertise in the environment or housing and replaced by expensive consultants then the Mayor is not making real savings but actually selling Londoners short."

"It is also really disappointing that a year into office Boris Johnson has made so little progress in cutting duplication in the services across police, fire, transport and the London Development Agency."

Green Party (press release) said...

Cuts threaten Mayor’s duties on environment

Responding to proposals from the Chief Executive of the Greater London Authority that would see the size of City Hall reduced by 114 posts, Darren Johnson AM, Green Party Member of the London Assembly said,

"With such big staff cuts I am concerned about whether the Mayor could really deliver his statutory duties on the environment. Under the previous administration City Hall had been at the forefront of new environmental initiatives but will this be able to continue if the GLA's environment team is slashed in half?"

Anonymous said...

There is the deletion of 69 vacant posts (the majority of which are vacant because Boris instituted a recruitment freeze) plus the additional 45 staff you note. This is therefore an effective cut of plus 100.

The real issue is the percentage cuts and environmental issues certainly get it there. Not sure if Boris' promised cuts of media, marketing etc have been followed through.

AdamB said...

It's 100 posts rather than jobs. Saying that they're axing 100 jobs suggests that 100 people are going to get the sack. That is not the case.

The environmental cuts is an important but separate story. On the media side, there is a proposal for '20% savings' but I'm not sure yet what that means in terms of posts.

Anonymous said...

In March 2008, there were 701 staff in post at the GLA, according to a December 2008 Workforce Monitoring Report

Media reports today estimate that there are around 800 posts currently, and that there will be a 114 reduction in posts. This gives a total of 686 posts after Boris's cuts

Assuming that all of these posts are filled (which I guess is the assumption - to get a nice big headline figure to spin yourself as the cost-cutting Mayor, you would want to delete all unfilled post), this gives a net reduction of 25 posts from the days of 'Ken the Squanderer', or 0.5%.

I'm surprised that Conservatives are happy with this - I thought GLA was home to a lot of waste. The fact that Ken's waste seems to be 0.5% of staff makes it sound like a small figure to me, especially if the posts to go are at administrative level and so on relatively low wages.

Surely some mistake? Or maybe the level of GLA waste was over-egged during the election campaign, and Ken actually ran a tight and efficient ship?

Anonymous said...

Oops - that first link should have been December 2008 GLA Staff Monitoring Report

Anonymous said...

Something funny going on.

This is the link www.london.gov.uk/assembly/bmac/2008/dec16/item06.rtf

Anonymous said...

Has anyone looked at the number of woman who will be made redundant in the new structure? It seems to be a lot relative to the number of men who are being promoted.

And although it is referred to as a consultation period it is clear to staff inside the building that the decision has been made and the staff may as well not bother with trying to have alternatives heard.

AdamB said...

I'm afraid I don't have that level of detail Anonymous. Please email me about if you like


Barry Rochford said...

Anonymous's question re: the number of women being axed is very pertinent, incluidng the post being deleted that may have had great relevance to women across the capital (eg Capital Woman).
Mike Tuffrey's comment makes sense in that making savings for the sake of it is counter-productive. If spending money creates jobs then it is excellent investment. The mayor could have a budget of just 10% of current spending and do virtally nothing for London. Then we'd have the 'cut costs' crowd complaining why this doesn't work or that service is a disgrace.
It's not that Ken wasted money, despite all the hype. Boris has found out the value to London of much of that spending - for example he has reversed his attitude to links with China and india for practical reasons. His stupidity of being driven by ideology to scrap the London-Venezuela oil deal is costing a few £million. He can't go back on that one as he'd look silly (well sillier).
There isn't a direct correlation between cuts and efficiency - there is between cuts and Tory ideology, which is something else.