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Thursday, 10 June 2010

Labour Councillors Refuse Pay Cut — But Lay off Their Own Staff

By Mercia — The Labour Party-controlled Lambeth council has announced its intention to cut 400 jobs from its staff — while its councillors have refused to take a five percent cut in pay.

To add insult to injury, the announcements were made while the national Labour Party demanded a “full disclosure” of the scale of proposed job losses in the National Health Service.

Lambeth Borough Council launched a 90-day consultation period with Labour supporting trade unions last week over the proposed job cuts, which are intended to reduce expenditure by £20 million during this financial year.

At the same time, senior councillors were reported in the south London media as refusing to accept a five percent reduction in their Special Responsibilities Allowances (SRA).

Many claim this decision to be perverse considering the sums Lambeth councillors have received from the taxpayer.

The leader of the council, Cllr Reed, is recorded as having received £40,215 in SRA and “Civic Allowances” (CA) for the financial year 2009/10.

Council deputy leader Cllr Meldrum, and eight cabinet members having responsibility for Children and Young People, Community Safety, Culture and Communities, Employment & Enterprise, Environment, Finance and Resources, Health and Wellbeing, and Housing and Regeneration, received SRA and CA payments of £28,236 per councillor.

Even the opposition parties are in at the trough, with the leader of the opposition majority group entitled to £10,797 and the leader of the opposition minority group to £5,556.

Amazingly, none of these already very generous payments include the basic payment, currently just over £10,000 per year.

In other words, at least ten Lambeth councillors received around £40,000 or more of taxpayers' money during the year in question.

The average rate for a state carers' allowance to members of the public stands at around £1 per hour. Lambeth Council provides a discretionary allowance of up to £7 per hour, plus taxi fares of up to £10, for those councillors requiring help with either childcare or dependent care whilst on council business.

According to Cllr Meldrum, the council's "absolute priority" is to improve and maintain front-line services whilst making cuts.

Yet, instead of cutting councillors allowances and expenses, as common decency requires, the council proposes to axe 215 positions in children and young people's services; 58 posts in housing, regeneration and the environment; 36 posts in finance and resources; 25 general administration jobs and an unspecified number of jobs in adult and community services. 

Amongst the first to go will be temporary and agency staff, with permanent staff approaching retirement age also high on the list of vulnerable workers.

Despite the behaviour of their councillors in Lambeth, the Labour Party, whilst ignoring its role in burdening the NHS with £1 billion of PFI re-payment, has demanded to know the full scale of job losses in the NHS.

Many suggest that local authority cuts should start in the council chamber, the most non-productive area of all local authorities.