Manchester City Council

A Dry Day

It's not of course - got quite wet this morning biking in and the first of the expected next wave of snow is fluttering down outside the office window. After the excitement generated by my last post this is a return to one of those very worthy but not very riveting days which are fairly typical of my working week.

Just one thing to add to the last post though before I move on. I fully understand that the scale of the cuts we now face will create a great deal of uncertainty in many parts of the Council. One thing we're not going to do though is panic. We will work through the options available to us quickly but also carefully. We will consult properly with Trade Union representatives and we will ensure accurate and timely information for employees and service recipients. This can't be done overnight but we will aim to eliminate uncertainty as quickly as possible.

Spent a fair chunk of time on ward matters yesterday and today. Did a walkabout yesterday in Crumpsall with Highways officers looking at all the roads that the three ward Councillors believe should be prioritised for maintenance work. Early evening was a meeting of Enver Road Residents Association with good discussions about tree planting, community gardens and planned improvements for Crumpsall Park. This morning I meet with our ward co-ordinator and ward support officer and Councillor Keegan to follow up issues from our last ward co-ordination meeting and to think about the next one when we are planning to have a good look at what children's services are doing in Crumpsall and Blackley Village.

Our regular group looking at the economy of the city meets later this morning. As well as the monthly look at our economic barometer we have introduced a work programme looking at particular themes and geographic areas so today there is a paper on the Digital and Creative sector and another on the (Oxford Road) Corridor. Whatever is happening internally we need to keep sight of the need to continue to grow our economy in a way local people can benefit from. It's a day for working groups as the economy meeting is followed a little later in the day by a group looking at how we manage personnel and organisational development issues across the council. We look at progress with M people and how we are dealing with long term absence and capability issues. A very dry day!

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There are 35 responses to “A Dry Day”

  1. Aaron H Says:

    Richard

    One of the fundamental principles of M People is that managers deal effectively with poor performance so that performance is addressed at source and not restructured out to another part of the council (apologies to non-council employees for the official jargon).

    Given this is the case, can we expect more support from personnel, and assistance in taking effective action? Or do we have to persist with a personnel department that always goes for the safest (and softest) option when it comes to taking action against people who do not provide any kind of service to MCC?

    I think it's time employees within MCC were supported to a greater degree rather than being fobbed off due to a fear of future litigation. It is almost impossible to get appropriate disciplinary action taken as it currently stands, and in a time when people are understandably worried about their own positions it will only add to any perceived or real injustices when staff who are not competent retain their jobs whilst others are moved elsewhere.

  2. t matt Says:

    I think Aaron's post is excellent and desrving of a reply when you have the time Richard. Really good points made. The scale of cuts seems ridiculous but if we are all honest we know there needs to be some cuts and better those that are not preforming rather than whole departments. I know it is not easy but I hope m.people provides oppurtunities as far as possible for those that have always worked hard and want to continue to work hard for the people of Manchester.

  3. FG Says:

    With regards to the reduced budget provision from central government.
    This is an opportunity for Manchester City Council to remove the duplication and waste that is endemic across the council.
    Can the level of resources spent on Corporate Performance be curtailed for a few years?
    Has not all the medium term Strategy requirements of Manchester been completed?
    Why have Manchester Advice and Manchester CAB?
    Is DOT delivering?
    Is ICT equipped to engender change?
    By the end of 2011, hundreds of staff will be in mpeople, what will happen to these staff?
    Not all will find new roles, the roles are not being created at that level and natural wasteage so high.
    Will VR be offered or CR?


  4. OldFella Says:

    Sir Richard has an even more serious conundrum on his hands since last week. We have heard announcements from other Council Leaders of 'staff and services cuts woe' already - but so far it's all still unexpectedly 'sweet' in Manchester. Services still being provided aplenty to residents and Members alike, no ease up on demand, I'd say an increase is going on, regardless. Sir Richard and Sir Howard will rightly not be rushed into declaring any cost saving or service trimming strategies. We'll all know when they know. It takes time.

    Some of us know the feeling of waiting for 'test results', and that is largely how this all feels at staff level. You really don't want to know the truth. But then you really do so that you can move on somehow, because the rest of your life depends upon knowing.

    'The Transformation', Plan A, is a long term plan to create a completely new structure for how services will be delivered in Manchester, with significantly fewer staff, ending 2013. 'M People' assumes a continuing reducing workforce through 'natural loss' and where staff can be deployed from identified dead jobs into new roles created by the Transformation, subject to a suitable 'capability assessment' one assumes... Numbers leaving the Council for new jobs must be at an all time low. I haven't been to a 'retirement do' for many months, a funeral in years. That to me says YIKES!

    So... can we take it as a given then that soon, very soon, Manchester City Council Leaders will have to reveal an even more cunning Plan B to cut staff numbers more quickly and in much bigger numbers than originally expected in Plan A? Only two options are available, VER to those eligible, and redundancy...

    Well, as I said in an earlier post, PLEASE offer ALL age 55+ staff VER, and see where that takes us. WHY would The Council want to keep the most 'elderly' of it's staff who actually WANT to go sooner than later, or keep those younger 'uns more needy, eagre and capable of engaging in and surviving this bloomin Transformation process? I know there's an up front cost, but before the end of the final Transformation implementation, money will be saved.

    For me, the greatest comfort in ALL of this is that I know Sir Richard is an honourable man with a conscience. His current dilemma is unprecedented, even cuts under Thatcher can't compare, and many of us remember that era. It's all absolutely horrible.

  5. manclad Says:

    Re voluntary early retirement. Is it really acceptable to for the Council Taxpayer to fund people to retire at 55 ?

    I think there are many people who would actually prefer to have their services delivered by the 'old uns' - far more hard working.

  6. OldFella Says:

    @manclad and @Sir Richard

    Yeah, age and experience has merits for sure, and many customers and Members like an experienced hand on their case. I know some managers think us old 'uns are a hindrance to change. I don't think we are, we're actually more experienced at it than most. Yes, we're less inclined to slap 'high fives' whilst chanting 'yes we can' because experience has made us a little more questioning, but questions can be frowned upon because they can convey negativity, and challenge prevailing political and management thinking. So it's always best to say nowt, or slap high fives enthusiastically, and that way you'll get on. Twas always thus, and will be. Think on.

    Having said that, this Transformation is going to require staff committed and able to work a lot harder... I'm in no doubt of it. Batteries will need to be pretty well fully charged. There's only so much energy some of us old 'uns can give heading towards retirement. Many of us are already running below par, we know that, run down by decades of heavy use, and in desperate need of a good recharging, rather than discharging even faster than ever.

    IF VER is a no-go, how about offering us some kind of incentivised 'part time hours' package? If you don't want us to go altogether, Sir Richard, then give us some encouragement to work part time. Such as part time work with pension contributions paid in as if in full time work, so as not to lose any benefits at retirement? I'd rather that than redundancy and poverty on job seekers allowance with no way to get a new job 'at my age', and no way to pay my way on that money. Stark truth.

    It's a quandry, for sure.

  7. R Kendall Says:

    I appreciate that we are in tough economic times. I work in Children's Services and was saddened to see the council have to release a temporary member of staff who worked in our team for the last 18 months. I would like it to be known that he was a great asset to our team and leaves a void. During that time he consistently performed to the highest level, was proud to work MCC and displayed great potential. I honestly believe the decisions being taken at senior level in culling temporary staff a great shame as their skills play a pivotal role within the organisation. I’ve been working for the council for many years and believe that temporary staff that has worked within the council should have the opportunity to be retained in some way.

  8. Hmmm Says:

    Sucks init, all these people worrying yet the higher up the food chain you go the less the worrying feeling is... who gives a toss about cuts here there and everywhere if your taking home more money than the PM each annum?
    Here's what I've got to say about the council as i currently see it

    1/alot more staff than needed
    2/Too much pay
    3/Flexible working hours?!?! 35 hours a week !?!?! (your kiddin me right?) elo real world to the council... sort your work ethics out, who does a 35 hour week anymore, were not the French, we do 40hr plus weeks for sh*t pay cos this is England.
    as for staff cuts well lets face it you employ people to do nothing but moan all day, rather than focused dedicated people <----- Should try employing more McR residents, the people that live and die here and would do there upmost.

    Anyway rant over.

  9. Stop the ride I want to get off Says:

    Manclad - are you serious..........! ! !

    A very large % of Council Employees actually live in Manchester - therfore they also pay Council Tax.

    As for "old uns" being far more hard working - that is a load of guff - most young staff start on a low wage and work very hard to progress within the company but in general ALL staff young and old do a brilliant job for Manchester City Council.

    If mass redundancies are brought in and services are reduced or made obsolete - people will realise just how hard the staff at Manchester City Council work.

  10. t matt Says:

    It is simply incorrect to say that the 'old uns' are far more hard working! There are some who are so stuck into a mold that they are not earning their pay. There are good and bad across all age ranges, providing options for early retirement just seems sensible at the current time.

  11. PuppyLove Says:

    manclad - can I point out that many employees of MCC are also Council Tax Payers of MCC, and pay income tax etc etc. There seems to be a lack of understanding about the poor taxpayer "funding" public sector staff pensions and other benefits, without also understanding that we are taxpaers too!

  12. Star gazer Says:

    I think with the scale of the cuts that the sensible option would be to start trimming away at some of the 50k plus a year salaries in the council and protect the jobs first and foremost of Manchester resindents in some of the households in Manchester many of whom deliver essential front line services on much much less. Most staff need good supervisers and a strategic Director - the rest can be trimmed away.

  13. t matt Says:

    Hmmm; happy to shopw you my pay check and its low pay and the amount I contribute to the Pension pot and the also show you how most of our jobs are aimed at improving the communities of Manchester not wealth accumulation. We all know cuts are needed but this viewpoint you hold is not born out with facts, it is an out of touch view. There will be cuts but when services are reduced, crimes go up, things get worse remember your comments about all these 'high' paid staff and their 35 hour weeks.

  14. REDSTEVE57 Says:

    I agree with Star Gazer, there is a constant stream of highly paid jobs created at the £50k plus level that are, on the whole, managers that watch but never do anything. It's about time that those that tell staff how to undertake tasks were culled instead of the backbone of MCC such as the front line services that are publically visible and those that perform the back office functions. There has been a glut in recent years of project managers and programme managers, business managers and business analysts,particularly in DoT, that are highly over paid and hugely under worked. Instead of observers and side line critics we need staff that deliver the services and keep the service deliverers paid and on track.
    Why give in to the mercenaries who apply for positions and then negotiate their pay to a higher level than advertised. If they don't want to work for MCC for what is offered then they shouldn't bother applying!! Of course the horse trading of salaries is only relevant if you are being offered an exorbitant salary in the first place.
    So come on Sir Howard and Sir Richard act like knights and save the down trodden workers and wield your swords at the over paid and under worked Senior Management Teams.

  15. MadasaHatter Says:

    @Hmmm

    1/. All staff are having to do "more for less" as posts that become vacant are not filled, and I can only see this getting worse over the coming years, especially with the number of older employees reaching retirement age....

    2/. Most employees do not get high wages and we work very hard for it. In fact over the past few years our pay has been frozen, which in real terms means we have had our pay cut

    3/. Yes we are contracted to 35 hours a week but we don't get paid for our lunch break and I would bet that most people work more than a standard 35 hour week

  16. Hmmm Says:

    @tmatt, Its obvious you work for the council your spelling is atrocious.

  17. Dan Says:

    @Hmmm, 'It's' not 'Its'. Best to lay off the stone throwing eh?

  18. Pedant Says:

    '@tmatt, Its obvious you work for the council your spelling is atrocious.'

    And your grammar is appalling Hmmm. 'its' is missing an apostrophe and there should be a comma after 'council'.

    Get to the back of the class.

  19. Hmmm Says:

    @The English Tutor's

    Touché, indeed my grammar isn't the best but when it comes down to spelling words and writing a coherent sentence, I don't do too bad.

  20. thischarmingmanc Says:

    Im sorry but how can a sentence be coherent if your grammar isnt up to scratch spelling words correctly isnt the be all and end all spelling and grammar are equally important if youre going to be understood

  21. red arrow Says:

    Whilst on this subject, what's the apparent craze sweeping the nation of adding apostrophes to words where none is required?! Merry Christmas!

  22. Pedant Says:

    Red Arrow, according to the most recent issue of Pedant Monthly the current move towards adding an apostrophe to words such as 'it's' is part of the natural evolution of the English language, similar in fashion to the relatively recent acceptance of the word 'but' being used as the opening word in a sentence.

  23. More Pedantry Says:

    Hmmm... that should be too badLY. You're mixing up your adjectives and adverbs. Learn the difference and watch your sentences cohere!

  24. red arrow Says:

    Pedant, I agree. I wasn't so much thinking of It's (short version of it is) as apostrophe's and word's. Here's to 2011 being the Year of Improved Grammar. Happy Christmas!

  25. Not a pedant Says:

    It's = It is
    Its - Belonging to it

    No superfluous apostrophe there. One simply used to denote a missing letter.

    Merry Christmas''''''''

  26. red arrow Says:

    So, per the earlier comments - Its obvious requires an apostrophe.(This is obvious) My gripe involves apostrophes when not required. Happy New Year!

  27. Annette Says:

    manclad - A Pension scheme is where part of your wage is deferred until retirement. The employer pays a contribution but bear in mind that the vast majority of Local Government pay is at the lower end of avaerage pay. Pension contributions also mean that the 'poor council tax payer' is not having to support pensioners through state top ups.
    Believe me, the majority of Council pensions are barely enough to keep body and soul together. Early retirement does have an initial cost impact to the employer but this is converted to a long term saving as the post is 'cut'. The ongoing costs are met by the contributors to the scheme (the person who retires being one of these). As many long term employees have more than contributed to the system through, Council Tax. Income tax, National insurance and the many taxes that are levied when we spend the remainder of our earnings, I would say there is absolutely no justification required from any staff lucky enough to get early retirement. I have worked for the council for a great many years and through my work, seen generations of families who have never worked, yet never been short of money. I have, unwillingly, had to contribute to their care, housing, comfort, education, leisure pursuits and general 'something for nothing' lifestyles. I am sick and tired of being the target of greedy Tories, bankers and uneducated idiots alike.

  28. t matt Says:

    Mmmmm - my spelling is bad upon occassion I agree. This is due to the fact that I type these responses very quickly as I have so so much work to do! Happy New Year

  29. Aaron H Says:

    Annette

    You can't blame the tories for everything. The long term bludgeoning of the welfare system from certain families, who undoubtedly work on the side or have other means of income, flourished under a labour government. There was no incentive work, because it was easier to sit at home on your a**e and get paid for it.

    I'm saying this as a Labour supporter - the welfare system needs complete reform.

  30. Dave Says:

    Aaron H you do know that there is three times as much Tax crime as there is fruad in the welfare state. You'll not hear this in the Daily Mail. Just look at all the large companies who are moving there head office's to offshore islands to stop paying UK tax, not illigal but morally wrong. So lets get all the correct tax in or is it easier to get the man with £50 a month too much compared to hundreds of thousand's in tax not being collected.

  31. Aaron H Says:

    Dave

    How about we stop tax crimes and the leaking of the welfare state?

    I happen to be in agreement with you, but my argument was regarding welfare, not tax crimes, so I am not sure what your line of argument is.

    There's nothing moral about big business and corporations - they exist to make money. And they dodge legislation because they are many times more intelligent and powerful than politicians.

  32. Dave Says:

    Slight amendment tax avoidence is 15 times not 3 times more as beniffit fraud.

  33. Aaron H Says:

    In response to your question Dave, it's much easier to get £50 off a person a month because they are usually much less feckless and deviant than large companies who work within the law to avoid paying money. That might not be morally correct, but it is the reality. If there is one thing that we all know about the world, it's that it isn't particularly fair...

    And, Dave, since as you state that you want to make it a moral argument, a guy willingly claiming £50 a month more than he is entitled to is as morally reprehensible as a large company avoiding tax.

    There are plenty of things that morally wrong but still happen. Similarly, there are plenty of things that are technically legal but might be considered morally reprehensible. A moral relativism argument doesn't work.

    Also, not sure where the Daily Mail comment comes from - I'm probably as averse to rubbish dogma and fear mongering as you are, so I don't bother with it.

    And before the spelling nazi's get onto you, it's not 'fruad' or 'illigal'.

    You'd probably do well to remember that we both appear to be on the same side here - so there is no point slinging mud.

  34. Bradstreet Says:

    Dave says 'Just look at all the large companies who are moving there head office's to offshore islands to stop paying UK tax, not illigal but morally.

    Can't agree, Businesses are set up to make money. That is their sole aim. If by moving outside the UK tax system, they make more money, then that is what they will do. Nothing in the slightest bit wrong with that. If you have a pension fund, you may find it will be invested in profit making companies, some off which will be outside the UK

  35. Seera Says:

    Bradstreet.

    It is not the sole aim of a business to make money

 

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