The Cornish Guardian has just published my last article for the time being. As I will be standing for re-election to Cornwall Council on 2nd May, I am not allowed a newspaper column during this period because of electoral law. The article is as follows:
There continues to be a significant fall-out from the recent budget vote at Cornwall Council.
Senior Lib Dems, supported by their Conservative allies, are arguing that their budget “cuts” amendment will magic up £3.672 million “in savings” by cutting “consultants and agency staff.”
And even though they were told that their budget proposal would lead to, at least, 135 job losses, certain councillors are still arguing that their proposal “will actually boost job numbers, not cut them.”
The Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats on the Council has even claimed that “agency staff are expensive - sometimes costing the council as much as double the rate of workers on contracts.” He has also claimed that “the bulk of the savings should be made by transferring agency workers onto contract. Same staff, same work, savings for the council.”
The MP for St Austell and Newquay has even got in on the act, claiming that the cuts will “result in more council jobs, not less.”
Without going into the rights and wrongs of temporary staffing, the Council has released information to show that the above claims do not add up and are just plain wrong.
In a letter to members, the Leader of the Council has pointed out “the facts are that, while costs vary, in most cases it costs roughly the same to employ an agency worker as it does to employ a permanent member of staff when all the costs are taken into account.” He added that “the suggestion that we can actually create jobs by transferring agency workers to become permanent members of staff is at best naïve and at worst nonsensical.”
He also informed members that “work is currently taking place on identifying how these cuts can be made and a report setting out the implications for individual services will be published as quickly as possible so that staff who may be at risk of redundancy have the earliest possible notice and members of the public using these services can start making alternative arrangements.”
It is a worrying time. And I hope that those Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors who voted for the budget cuts will admit that they have got it wrong, and apologise to those staff members who may lose their jobs and those local residents who may find that their local services are under threat.