'Sad reality': Meeting hears 400 council job cuts will 'impact' services

Havering Council headquarters in Romford

A recent overview and scrutiny panel discussed the voluntary redundancy scheme Havering Council has offered to employees, as it attempts to make £13 million in savings - Credit: Archant

The “sad reality” is that Havering Council job cuts will likely impact public services, a recent scrutiny meeting heard. 

In a bid to close a budget gap of £13 million for 2022/23, the council will be cutting around 400 staff roles from its workforce, which it estimates will result in £7m of savings. 

This will involve a combination of removing funded vacancies, reducing dependency on agency staff and a voluntary redundancy scheme. 

The scheme will be open to all Havering employees, each of whom will have to make an individual case for why they should be made redundant. 

Final working days for those confirmed to leave will be agreed by June 30, meaning people working a three-month notice will be gone by the end of September.  

Some councillors and residents have aired concerns that the local authority is already short-staffed.

At the overview and scrutiny meeting on March 21, leader of the Residents' Group Cllr Ray Morgon said the panel is currently unsure how many vacant posts “are just going to be deleted, or where people are going to have their posts deleted and made redundant”. 

Questions around how the council arrived at its figure of 400 roles, and what it will do if it does not receive enough confirmed applications for voluntary redundancy, were also discussed by the committee. 

Sandy Hamberger, deputy director of policy and performance, said the scheme would have to be a "balancing act”, and will involve a series of checks and balances before the council is at a stage to consider other options. 

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Cllr Keith Darvill, leader of the Labour group, questioned the speed at which the scheme was moving ahead, and the impact it would have on services in the borough. 

He said: “If we are effectively going out and reducing the public service in such a way that’s going to impact adversely on our residents, then we won’t be doing our job properly.” 

Ms Hamberger responded saying the “sad reality” is that the reduction in staff roles will likely result in affected services. 

“I don’t see how you can take out 400 people and not have an impact," she said.  

Conservative councillors did not comment on the concerns during the discussion.