Council to axe jobs and outsource services to save £6m

Originally published in The Herald, 10/9/2009

Radical plans by Scotland’s councils to address the imminent financial squeeze on the public purse are emerging, with one major authority axing 150 management posts and outsourcing services, while three others are to merge most of their regulatory operations.

South Lanarkshire, in preparation for “the dark times ahead”, is planning a cull, with further impacts on jobs expected in the near future, as well as hiving off some services and privatising others.

The council, the fifth biggest in Scotland in terms of population, is looking to secure annual savings of £6m by making some managers redundant and redeploying others, as well as creating a trust to run its arts and culture services and sourcing alternative providers to run and maintain its fleet of vehicles.

Meanwhile, the three Ayrshire local authorities are to scrap their individual trading standards, building standards and environmental health operations and will instead pull the services under one roof with one council taking the lead role.

The overhaul, pitched as a pan-Ayrshire Regulatory Service, is one of the most significant attempts yet at forwarding the “shared services agenda”, with most efforts so far being confined to back-office functions.

The chief executives of East, North and South Ayrshire, and their senior officers, have now met on at least three occasions to advance the idea, although at this stage it is still unclear ­whether addressing duplication will lead to any job losses.

Further pooling of resources within Ayrshire is expected in the short to medium term, with all three acknowledging that the majority of services offered to the public in each area are duplicated across each council, with North Ayrshire claiming “there is an opportunity to consolidate on a pan-Ayrshire basis”.

North Ayrshire also agreed to undertake a review of its leisure, sport and recreational services to assess how well they are delivered and to plan for the next 10 years.