Jobs freeze at County Hall

A JOBS freeze at Devon County Council could slash spending by �20 million over the next two years.

A JOBS freeze at Devon County Council could slash spending by �20 million over the next two years.

Sick pay and mileage expenses could also be overhauled while staff could face a cut in hours, unpaid leave or even have to work at home.

Devon's Cabinet will meet next week to discuss freezing recruitment for all posts not in education, which could see staff levels fall by at least 500 by 2012.

The move could reduce staff levels including some social services positions by approximately five per cent.

Every year around 560 staff retire or take jobs elsewhere - and the majority could be filled by redeployment from existing departments and retraining.

Devon County Council leader John Hart said: "This is a compassionate, cost-cutting proposal. It demonstrates a pragmatic approach...which recognises that, as the biggest employer in Devon, we want to avoid making redundancies...

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"I pledged when I became leader of Devon County Council in June that we would not be an administration that was committed to 'slash and burn' policies...we do not relish the prospect of anyone losing their job.

"But I am prepared to take the hard decisions that will be needed to alter the course of the super tanker that is Devon County Council with its �1.3 billion budget.

"This plan will not be without its pain and we will be relying on our hard-working make it work."

A report penned by the Executive Director of Corporate Resources, Heather Barnes, will be discussed by the Cabinet on Tuesday.

Mrs Barnes says �300,000 has already been saved in redundancy costs by redeploying staff and the council will start negotiations with unions about other possible cost-cutting measures.

This includes offering staff the chance to reduce their hours, take unpaid holidays or work at home.

Similar jobs across the authority should also be merged and she says they should also bring sick pay entitlement and mileage rates into line with other employers like private sector.

She said: " be well placed to meet the financial challenges ahead, a clear focus on cost containment is required.

"...we must continue to protect vulnerable people and improve service delivery.

"A key priority will be the re-skilling and transfer of staff...the benefits of creating an internal labour market would include greater scope for redeployment opportunities, minimising redundancy costs, maximising the talents of existing staff, maintaining staff morale and motivation within the workforce."