The Council’s strategy to offload 10 libraries to Direct Help and Advice (DHA) by the end of 2018, is now in progress with the first library, Sinfin, being handed over in Mid-May 2018. The 4 existing paid staff, at Sinfin, will be replaced by volunteers identified through DHA.
The objective of this exercise is to save money across the Council and the primary source of the cost saving will be the redundancy of 44 people currently employed across the library network. (NB The population at risk is all 57 Library Assistants, and 7 Library Managers, not just those in the 10 libraries that are moving.)
The new organisation structure
The Council has published, internally, its “Library Service Restructure” document, dated March 2018, which details all of the current jobs, and the proposed new structure. In summary:
In the 14 Lending Libraries – currently, there are 64 jobs with total staff costs of £570k, this will be reduced to 20 jobs costing £220k ( saving of £350k)
Across all Central HQ departments – currently 27 jobs with total staff costs of £570k, this remains unchanged. No one will lose their job!
The majority of the Central HQ staff costs relate to the 13 managers, costing £400k.
It would be normal in a major restructuring exercise, similar to this, for the percentage reduction in Management/Overhead staff to, roughly, mirror that of the front-line resources. It raises questions as to why a 2/3rds reduction in the number of libraries controlled by the Council has seen no reduction in the Management staff at all. Questions about job protection for those creating the plan have to be raised and the evidence is clearly there.
Some Councillors are trying to suggest that there will be no redundancies and that all staff will be re-deployed. This is not the expectation in the latest document:
“The Council is currently willing to consider requests from any staff for Voluntary Redundancy….Whilst I would wish to support any application which could lead to the reduction in the anticipated number of compulsory redundancies….” and proceeds to explain that the phasing has to ensure continuity of front-line services.
Whilst the library service will continue under the management of DHA ( and enhanced with the support of partner groups), the paid staff jobs have not been “saved” and will be replaced by volunteers. The only jobs that have been “saved” are those of the Library Management infrastructure who have proposed the plan.
The £350k pa is considerably less than the publicised £650k pa saving deemed necessary to “balance the books”. The saving represents just 0.15% of the Council’s annual budget. Over the last 7 years the Council has generated an aggregate surplus of £46m – enough to keep the library staff employed for 131 years….and the Council claim they can’t afford to keep them open!?