LBWF embarks on staff redundancies but quietly admits that it’s allowed senior staff hires to mushroom, even as resident satisfaction with the council plummets

LBWF never ceases to amaze.

Take its current voluntary redundancy programme.

Of course, the timing, just before Christmas, is deplorable, and says everything about how little the Town Hall leadership really cares for those who work for it.

But putting that point aside, it’s very interesting to see how LBWF justifies itself. 

Predictably, the story being spun for public consumption is that ‘the urgent need to address financial constraints’ stems from ‘reduced government funding, a challenging economic climate and escalating service demands’, in other words, ‘it’s nothing to do with us, gov’.

But internal briefings introduce an important qualification.

For it turns out that in recent years, LBWF has added 150 staff to its workforce, and many are in senior positions.

In fact, payroll records apparently show that between 2017-18 and 2022-23, employees on grades PO9 and above (roughly those earning £60,000 p.a. or more) have increased by an eye-watering 69 per cent.  

Why this has happened is a mystery. After all, LBWF complaints about ‘financial constraints’ are nothing new, with, for example, the then Leader, Clare Coghill, telling journalist Dave Hill in 2017 that ‘There’s uncertainty at the moment around local government finance’, and ‘there’s this enormous question about our finances as we address the future’. So if such claims are taken at face value, it might be expected that prudence in hiring would long have been the order of the day.

What can be said is that if the influx of senior staff has been conceived as a way of improving LBWF’s day to day performance, the results are meagre.

For, as the internal briefings also concede, in recent years LBWF has fallen further and further behind in terms of meeting some of the targets it specifies as priorities, with the evidence showing that fear of crime ‘is becoming a more pressing concern for residents’; ‘many’ feeling disconnected from their neighbourhoods; and ‘[a]n increasing number of residents that interact with us directly’ doubting that the council ‘represents good value for money’.

At one and the same time, then, LBWF has employed more and more senior staff and yet ended up achieving less and less, quite a trick.

To repeat, LBWF never ceases to amaze.

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