Audit, Inspection and Safety

06.03.19

Walsall approves transformational programme in £10m move which could see 800 jobs lost

Walsall Council has approved plans for £10.7m to be spent on transforming the authority’s structure, which could see 800 jobs cut over the next three years.

The ‘Walsall Proud Programme’ (WPP) has been approved by councillors, and aims to “achieve better outcomes and customer experience, increase staff satisfaction and engagement, and improve service efficiency and performance.”

The WPP could cost the council up to £26.1m in total to implement, but Walsall Council said that for every £1, it will make recoup £3 worth of savings.

No specific number has been placed on the amount of jobs which could be lost, but the opposition leader at the council, Sean Coughlan, said that every council which has gone through a similar type of process previously has, on average, lost between 500 and 1,000 jobs.

The authority’s leader, Mike Bird, questioned the figure, but did confirm that the programme would result in some job losses.

Bird said: “The proud programme is a long-running issue that we are looking at to change the way Walsall Council works, and we are looking to bring it into the digital age.

“The deal on the table is quite simple: for every £1 we spend with the consultants we expect a £3 saving.

“This has not been done elsewhere, we're the first to be going down this route and I am confident that once we do what we're doing other councils will be knocking on our door and we will earn income from that.”

He said he did not know how many jobs would be lost, but said “we lose about 200 jobs every year by natural wastage, transfers and retirements.”

Coughlan was highly critical of the WPP and said its efforts were “too little too late.”

He stated: “My argument is places like Wolverhampton and Sandwell did this in 2011-12 when we had more money and flexibility and quite clearly we haven't got that now.

“We haven't got the capacity to transform the council, it's come at the wrong time.

"I really do understand we do need to change but my argument is it is too little too late.”

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