Monday, 21 July 2014

Leeds City Council proposes renegotiating staff conditions

Leeds City Council is proposing changes to staff terms and conditions in a bid to cope with the impact of greatly reduced budgets over the past few years.

As budgets are worked out for the coming year, the council has seen its core funding reduced by 43% in real terms since 2010 and has done everything it can to make savings as efficiently as possible to reduce impact on key frontline services.

The council has been in talks with trade unions over a number of months about how to reduce employment costs while protecting key public services and jobs as far as possible, taking feedback from them into account.

Now formal proposals to change some local terms and conditions will be presented to councillors at the General Purposes Committee on July 29.

They include removal of some historical payment arrangements, introducing a redundancy policy and reducing spending on travel-related items, including mileage rates and car allowance payments.

Leeds City Council Chief Executive Tom Riordan said:
“Our absolute priorities as a council throughout these very difficult cuts of the past few years have been to protect frontline services for vulnerable people, manage our finances as efficiently as possible and to act responsibly as one of the city’s major employers.

“We have achieved all this to the best of our ability and will continue to do so. However the financial challenges facing us are so enormous that we have been talking to staff representatives again. We need to find workable solutions to ensure we can continue to deliver essential public services.

“While we have to consider negotiating some changes, we are doing everything we can to continue protecting jobs and services and are as committed as ever to avoiding compulsory redundancies if we can. We very much value the mature relationship we have with our unions and our staff and will continue to work with them to achieve the best possible outcomes.

“Although up till now we have not been able to reach an agreement with the trade unions on the best way to take forward our proposals, we are sympathetic to the fact that public sector workers have had little or no pay increase for over 5 years. The changes we are proposing will have minimal impact on take home pay for the vast majority of our staff. We believe this offers the best solution to enable us to continue to provide essential council services to the people of Leeds.”

Ways in which the council has achieved significant savings to its costs in the light of reducing budgets over the past few years:
• significantly reducing the number of senior manager posts by 22% since 2010;
• reducing agency spend;
• restricting recruitment;
• supporting staff wherever possible to leave the council through the voluntary Early Leaver Initiative (ELI). Over 2,000 staff have left since the scheme was launched, leading to a corresponding reduction in numbers of posts;
• a cost of living rise of just 1% for the majority of staff over the past four (with no increase for senior management);
• no cost of living rise for staff over the past three years (four years for senior management);
• developing more flexible roles/job descriptions (to reduce the need for recruitment / agency / overtime spend);
• actively promoting voluntary reductions in working hours/working weeks;
• ongoing work to further reduce sickness absence ;
• reviewing existing temporary payments and acting up arrangements.

Notes to editors:
A Section 188 notice was issued by Leeds City Council to its unions on 23 July 2013. The obligation to consult under Section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULRCA) applies where the employer is proposing to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at one establishment within a period of 90 days or less, or proposing to issue notices to terminate existing contracts of employment and immediately offering to engage staff new contracts. The duty is to consult with representatives of employees who may be affected by the proposed dismissals or may be affected by measures taken in connection with those dismissals. The formal notice to commence this kind of consultation is often referred to as a “section 188 notice”.


For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335
e-mail: donna.cox@leeds.gov.uk


ENDS

Local people demand more power to England's cities

Issued on behalf of the Core Cities group

Leeds is one of England’s eight largest cities outside of London today launching a major national campaign demanding more power over how their money is spent.

The Local Voices campaign will be launched at a Parliamentary Reception with Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and Nottingham City Council Leader Cllr Jon Collins telling MPs and Council leaders of the need to make the most of taxpayer’s money by having the power to make decisions locally.

The Local Voices campaign consists of people in each of the eight Core Cities whose work has benefitted, and would benefit further, by greater devolution of freedoms to cities. Spokespeople include the manager of a Premier Inn in Leeds, a family intervention project team leader in Manchester and the chief executive of an SME in Nottingham.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“We have already proved through our Devolved Youth Contract that where we have the freedom, power and resources to determine local solutions to the big challenges facing our communities, we can deliver more effective solutions than Whitehall alone. We also recognise that enabling our regions to thrive economically will be key to rebalancing the national economy and delivering long-term sustainable growth.

“This is why we are asking Government to endorse our five year Skills and Labour Market Agreements. These agreements will see provision for skills and employment services devolved to local functioning economic areas, our cities and city regions. Here, local economic partnerships will be able to maximise the benefits of secure, long term budgets to provide effective support services tailored to local labour markets."

Leeds City Council and local employers and training providers have been working closely together on skills and apprenticeships.

Simon Murphy, General Manager, Premier Inn Leeds & Bradford and one of the Local Voices talking in London about the need for devolution to help young people get into work, such as the Leeds Devolved Youth Contract, said:

“Locally devised and targeted skills programmes can significantly boost the number and quality of young people able to go on and have economically productive lives. We need greater influence to give far more young people meaningful training that firms are actively seeking.”

Also attending the Parliamentary Reception today will be Mayor George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, numerous Council leaders from the Core Cities and London and MP’s from England’s biggest cities.

Greater freedom to decide how to spend the money generated in cities, such as property taxes, would help the Core Cities meet their target of outperforming the national economy, and becoming financially self-sustaining. Independent forecasts demonstrate this could mean an additional £222 billion and 1.3 million jobs for the country by 2030. That is like adding the entire economy of Denmark to the UK. This could also mean an additional £41.6billion to the Government in taxes from increased jobs by 2030 – enough to pay off almost half the national deficit. And that’s not by raising the levels of taxes, just by changing how current taxes are invested.

Speaking in advance of the Parliamentary Reception, Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council and Chair of the Core Cities Cabinet said:
“The national economy needs our cities to succeed like never before in delivering jobs and growth, and reducing dependency on public services. To do so means going further and faster in devolving resources from the centre.

“The Local Voices campaign clearly demonstrates the positive impact devolution can have on people’s lives. Each of the case studies has benefited from decisions being made at a local level but at the same time have been hindered that the freedoms cities enjoy do not go far enough to enable them to make a real difference. This campaign seeks to highlight the excellent work cities do and how with more freedoms we can make our community’s better places to live.”

Cllr Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council and Core Cities Cabinet member for Business, Growth, Trade and Investment said:
“We can’t deliver on jobs, growth and financial self-sufficiency with our hands tied behind our backs by Whitehall. Our overly centralised system is no longer fit for purpose, and though growth deals are a step forward, the current annual negotiation process won’t solve the problem. The Core Cities want to see a better balance of funding for the regions so we can effectively meet the needs in our cities.”

Julie Cusack, Family Intervention Project Team Leader from Manchester and one of the Local Voices speaking of how local freedoms in Manchester through the Family Intervention Programme has benefited her work said:
“The transformation in the family’s lives has been remarkable: better school attendance, less interventions by police and social workers, improved health outcomes and generally happier and more motivated people.

“We now need to build on the programme, and others like it, if we are to fully reform our public services.”

International cities, such as Paris, Berlin and Barcelona, have enjoyed huge amounts of economic success due to having the policy and tax freedoms to boost their local economies. Comparatively, England’s Core Cities are being hindered by central Government retaining control over 95% of funds raised locally.

Birmingham Alabama for example retains a lot more locally raised taxes than Birmingham UK. According to the OECD, the level of taxes managed at the local or regional level is about 10 times greater in Canada, 7.5 in the US, 7 in Sweden, almost 6 in Germany, and over 5 times greater across the OECD on average.

Local Voices forms part of the wider City Centred Campaign for greater devolution to cities run by Core Cities, the Mayor of London and London Councils.


ENDS

Media contact
Alex Linden, Westbourne Communications – alex.linden@westbournecoms.com or 020 3397 1874


Notes to editors
Please visit the City Centred website for more details of the campaign and to view the Local Voices case studies www.citycentred.co.uk

The Core Cities consist of: Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

The Core Cities recently released a Growth Prospectus which can be read online..

Property taxes consist of: council tax, business rates, stamp duty land tax, annual tax on enveloped dwellings and capital gains property disposal tax.

The Core Cities are a unique and united local authority voice to promote the role of their cities in driving economic growth. They represent the councils of England’s eight largest city economies outside London. The Core Cities Group has a track record of 15 years as a cross party group, led by the City Leaders. For more information please visit www.corecities.com/.

‘Doing nothing is not an option’ as Leeds launches safeguarding campaign






Caption: Some of the artwork that will be used across the city as part of the prevention of abuse campaign

A new campaign focusing on ‘doing nothing is not an option’ when it comes to adult abuse and that everyone has a responsibility to safeguard people in the city launches this week.

The Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board is launching the prevention of adult abuse campaign from Monday 21 July.

Safeguarding adults refers to the protection of an 'adult at risk' from abuse or neglect, aimed at people over 18 years of age with health or social care needs.

Posters and information will be up around the city, alongside a social media campaign with a call to action to report adult abuse if people suspect it.

Anyone who suspects any kind of adult abuse or feels they are a victim themselves should contact 0113 222 4401 (Textphone for deaf and hard of hearing people: 0113 222 4410) during office hours. If it is outside office hours (at night, during weekends or bank holidays) contact the emergency duty team on 0113 240 9536.

For people wanting advice on any matter to do with safeguarding adults call 0113 224 3511.

Dr Paul Kingston, chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board said:

“It is vitally important we get the message out that we all have a responsibility to safeguard adults at risk of abuse or neglect throughout our city.

“Noticing and acting on concerns, even if it is something very small, could really help someone who is at risk from such abuse, and we would urge everyone to take these matters seriously.

Dealing with allegations or concerns about abuse can be very difficult and distressing for everyone involved. Deciding what the right thing to do is can be stressful, particularly if the person you are concerned about is reluctant to accept support.

Whilst this is an adult safeguarding campaign, we are also working closely with the Leeds Safeguarding Children’s Board to raise the profile of safeguarding generally.”

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for adult social care said:

“Leeds as a city is committed to safeguarding those in our area who may be at risk of abuse.  

“We already have strong reporting procedures in place for the safeguarding of adults, and we are working to ensure we raise the profile of safeguarding in the city and ensure that people are aware of how to report their concerns or get in touch with the right agency for advice.”

Notes to editors:

Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board
Safeguarding adults is the multi-agency procedure used to protect someone from abuse or neglect. The procedures are specifically for those people who are over the age of 18 years of age,
  • who may need health or social care support to maintain their independence and wellbeing; and
  • who may be unable to take care of him or herself, or
  • unable to protect him or herself against harm or exploitation
For more information see the Leeds Safeguarding Adults website: www.leedssafeguardingadults.org.uk

For further information contact
Cat Lindley, Leeds City Council communications team
Mob: 07712214224