Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh Council reveals radical shake-up of services

Edinburgh Council
Image caption The council is trying to achieve £138m of savings by 2017

Proposals have been revealed for a radical shake-up of the way council services in Edinburgh are run.

The council has produced a blueprint to restructure its organisations to give more power to the staff closest to the communities they serve.

But this could place a question mark over the roles of hundreds of middle managers.

Councillors will debate the proposals next week before they go out to consultation with unions.

The chief executive of Edinburgh Council, Sue Bruce, and her team have been working on the plans for more than a year.

The council needs to make big savings - £138m by 2017 - but is stressing these moves aren't simply about saving money and are separate from proposals on the local budget for local services.

No compulsory redundancies

The plan would aim to reorganise the management structures to make them simpler and organise local services around different areas of the city.

This could help speed up decision making and make services more responsive to local needs while the implications for staff are significant. However it's unlikely the public would notice any immediately obvious changes.

However supporters argue these changes would be the right thing to do even if there was no pressing need to save money.

It will be some time before staff learn how they personally might be affected by the proposed changes.

They could leave a question mark over the current roles of hundreds of middle managers, though the council has a policy of no compulsory redundancies.

'Growing concern'

No figures have been produced for how the overall size of the council's workforce may change through the plan but it is likely the headcount will fall.

In general, councils have cut staff through voluntary redundancies, early retirements and leaving vacancies unfilled.

If the scheme goes ahead, changes would start to take place in about a year's time.

The proposed changes were due to be unveiled last month but were delayed so they could be finalised.

On Thursday the public spending watchdog expressed "growing concern" over how the council might deal with budget reductions.

The Accounts Commission said the council needed to develop a comprehensive strategy for managing its staff.

Some at the council were known to be disappointed by the timing of the commission's report as it drew attention to challenges the council knew it faced.

Budget decisions will be taken by councillors in February.

Options being considered include cutting the amount spent on sport and leisure centres and library opening hours.

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