Ipswich: Borough spending thousands on new jobs . . . to handle cost-cutting

Grafton House.

Grafton House. - Credit: Archant

Ipswich council is looking to pay more than £65,000 to five new members of staff . . . to help the organisation cut its labour costs!

The borough is advertising for ten new full and part-time members of staff in its human resources department. The total cost of the new appointments will be about £170,000.

Four of these staff will be direct replacements for some who are retiring or moving on to other jobs. One is an apprentice who will be paid just over £5,000 a year.

However five – one full time “Policy and Organisational Development Advisor” and three part-time advisors and assistants – are being taken on for a fixed-term contract to handle changes to the borough’s workforce.

The organisation is currently undergoing two major personnel changes.

One is “single-status harmonisation” which involves putting all staff on the same salary structure. This has already caused controversy because workers in some departments are facing a pay cut while those in others are likely to get a rise.

The borough is also undergoing a “transformation” process with departments being reorganised in a bid to cut costs – a move that is likely to result in job losses.

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A spokesman for the borough insisted that overall the costs of the council’s HR department would fall as a result of the transformation process.

He said: “We are adapting the HR team to meet not only the long-term needs of the council but to handle the current projects that affect staff ­ the review of all our services and the proposed harmonisation of pay and conditions.

“More than half of the advertised posts are temporary ones.”

The spokesman said that the council’s HR and payroll department currently had 22 full-time equivalent jobs, of which 18 were permanent, one was an apprentice, and three were on fixed contracts.

Six of the permanent employees were leaving, and would be replaced by four new appointments and one new apprentice.

The five new fixed term appointments amounted to just over three full time equivalents.

The “Policy and Organisational Development Advisors” would be training officers working with staff to ensure they were prepared for the new ways of working within the authority.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said he knew the council was having to make changes, and hoped it would keep the costs of change down as low as possible.

He had concerns about the single status harmonisation in Ipswich: “I know the council is looking to introduce the living wage, which is an admirable aim, but the effect of the changes are that some of the lowest-paid employees are facing a pay cut – and that is not right.”