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Oxfordshire County Council £33m savings drive could lead to 900 job cuts

Oxfordshire County Council could undergo a “complete overhaul” including cutting jobs in a bid to make £33m in savings.

In a statement released today, the authority, which needs to save £33m as part of its four-year budget plan, currently estimates a potential reduction of between 600-890 FTE posts at the council over the next two to three years.

It is hoped that the proposed redesign of the council will continue to protect and improve frontline services for residents— whilst “cutting the red tape and reducing the costs of ‘back office’ administration,” Oxfordshire’s statement said.

Council leader Ian Hudspeth said: “We are committed to reducing the number of redundancies by retraining staff wherever possible to fill the new jobs that would be created as a result of the proposed new council operation.

“These proposed changes are a crucial part of the county council’s commitment to supporting thriving communities for everyone in Oxfordshire.

“Over the last eight years, the county council has taken some difficult decisions so we can meet the growing demand for services while staying on a sound financial footing. We are now looking to the future to create an organisation that can provide services that Oxfordshire people and communities want and need.”

The changes to the council came after a review from auditors PwC that found the council needed to “fundamentally change” to meet future challenges of rising demand for services, particularly for vulnerable children and adults. The commissioned analysis found that the council could save between £34m and £58m per year over a five-year period.

The proposed redesign of the county council could save between £34m-58m a year over a five-year period and ensure a continued balanced budget.

Other cost-cutting methods will focus on the use of innovation and technology, such as exploring the opportunities to improve the efficiency of transport provision, remote testing of fire alarms, and use of drones in emergency situations.

“Implementing the new ways of working would address the savings the council needs to make and could enable future investment in council services,” the statement added. “The estimated one-off costs of up to £18m to implement the new operating model, including the necessary digital investment, would be paid back from the savings made.”

The new operating model will be considered by county councillors during September, with a decision to be taken by Cabinet on 18 September. If agreed, councillors will consider how to implement the operating model for savings to start being made in the next financial year.

Hudspeth noted: “Our systems currently do not support staff as well as they could do in order for them to do the best job they can – and we know how frustrating that is because staff tell us that. There’s no doubt they are working hard and trying to do their best for Oxfordshire, but our systems, structures need to better support them. We have a duty now to act on that.”

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