Epping Forest District Council is talking with its employees about potential reductions in staffing next year.
A balanced budget identifying increased fees, charges, and savings to cover the £4.5million shortfall in funding for next year will be presented for debate at Cabinet on Monday 12 December.
Identifying the £4.5million projected gap early has given the council time to scrutinise every penny. Salaries are the council’s biggest cost and largest potential saving. Some jobs will be affected, but every effort will be made to avoid any potential compulsory redundancies. Proposals include a review of vacant posts, with potential voluntary redundancies and redeployment.
With hard pressed residents feeling the effects of inflation on their own pockets, the draft budget seeks to provide essential services residents rely on, at an affordable cost through tax, fees, and charges.
The process has been difficult.
Strategic Director Andrew Small said:
It’s not been an easy task, with inflation still high, everything is costing more. Whether that is staff costs, or the amount we need to pay our contractors to provide their services.
Unfortunately, we are not able to increase our income at the same rate and this creates a large funding gap. Taking more than £4 million out of the budget has not been easy and Cabinet have to make some difficult choices.
The proposed savings include the review of a large number of vacant posts. The council would still need to review a few posts where people are currently employed.
Andrew Small said:
This is always our last choice, and the decision is not taken easily.
I wanted to be honest and up front with you. Many of those impacted are already aware of the proposals, but for the few that are not we will be commencing consultation on the proposals and the options available to them early in the new year.
Staff have been promised more details in the New Year.
Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Epping Forest District Council said:
We care deeply about our employees. They are our best asset. We value the hard work and dedication to public service that our employees bring to work every day.
But these are not ordinary times. The cost-of-living crisis sparked by the pandemic and aggravated by Putin’s senseless war in Ukraine has far-reaching ramifications.
While our residents must come first, we will do all we can to protect our staff. The potential need for compulsory redundancies will be minimised through a mixture of reviewing existing vacancies, potential voluntary redundancies, and redeployment.
Consultation in line with the council’s organisational change policy, legal requirements and best practice will begin with employees and the Trade Unions in the new year.
The council is also offering wellbeing support to all its employees with any work or personal related issues, whether related to this matter or otherwise, including its Employee Assistance Programme.
Keep up to date
Keep in touch with our latest news, service updates and reports.