Bristol City Council to make 300 staff redundant

The authority has to plug a £31million funding gap in 2023/24
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Savage cuts to Bristol City Council’s budget will cost up to 300 staff their jobs, it has been revealed.

The news just before Christmas will mean redundancies – compulsory and voluntary – where the deletion of vacancies, natural employee turnover and redeployment to other roles do not make up the numbers.

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The authority has to plug a £31million funding gap in 2023/24, caused by skyrocketing inflation, increased costs and rising demand on its services because of the cost-of-living crisis, as part of a shortfall of between £37.5million and £87.6million over the next five years, and is required by law to balance its books.

Its proposed budget has a raft of cuts and savings, including reducing the size of several council teams.

Legal notices have been issued to trade unions and weekly consultations with reps are taking place.

The figure of 300 redundancies is in a report by director of workforce and change Steph Griffin to be discussed by the authority’s human resources committee on Thursday (December 15).

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It said the proposals required a “review of the staffing structure in some teams and a reduction in number of posts”.

The report said: “Provisional estimates indicate up to 300 redundancies (voluntary or compulsory) are possible.

“The spread of redundancies across and within directorates, services and teams will be variable depending upon the availability of vacancies that can be deleted and turnover rates.

“The number of redundancies required will be minimised through the deletion of vacancies arising from natural turnover, the use of the succession planning policy (as appropriate) and the return to a proactive approach to redeployment.

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“Where approved by full council and/or cabinet as required, savings that have a workforce impact will be subject to consultation and selection processes as set out in the council’s managing change policy.

“The scale of the financial challenge we are facing means that colleagues across the organisation are likely to be impacted by some of the proposals.

“To support colleagues through an uncertain and difficult period when potentially significant changes to the organisation are proposed, we have put in place a range of wellbeing support.”

An equalities impact assessment said: “Taken together these measures would reduce our overall capacity (the number of council jobs) and mean we will have to focus on core priorities.

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“Whilst such a significant reduction in budget will inevitably reduce the overall number of jobs in the council, we are already taking steps to reduce the impact on employees, for example, through vacancy management and also reducing the number of managers through succession planning.

“Where any jobs are subject to change we will prioritise redeployment opportunities for affected colleagues.

“A programme of support will also be offered to all colleagues and managers affected by the change.

“Inevitably these savings will have an impact on our capacity as an organisation and we won’t be able to deliver everything we have done previously.”

City Hall at College GreenCity Hall at College Green
City Hall at College Green
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The report said cutting recruitment could worsen existing under-representation of groups working for the organisation, including young adults, disabled people, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, and staff who live in Bristol’s most deprived areas.

“Women could be disproportionately impacted because they are generally overrepresented in the council’s workforce,” it said.

“Colleagues on maternity leave may be less able to engage in change processes and could be overlooked.”

A separate report to the committee said an existing review of management was on track to deliver the required £5.5million savings in 2023/24 “through a combination of approving succession planning applications, deleting vacant positions and restructuring the director team”.

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The draft budget includes £1.5million annual cuts to adult social care staffing costs, £750,000 from a budget for children’s centres and family hubs, £1m from the IT team, £900,000 from legal and democratic services, £732,000 from the HR department and a review of care homes and East Bristol Intermediate Care Centre.

The Labour cabinet will consider the budget next month before full council makes the final decision in February.

Last month it was revealed that up to 100 jobs in the council’s strategic transport and city design departments face the axe, with the former having to apply for about 30 newly created similar roles at the West of England Combined Authority which is expected to take over that function.

The plans, branded “worrying” and “dangerous”, were approved by cabinet last week and include disbanding the city design team.

They were proposed before the budget consultation and so are understood to be separate from the 300 redundancies.

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