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Shropshire Council staff to work from home once a month to save money

By Lucy Todman | Shrewsbury | Politics | Published:

Staff at cash-strapped Shropshire Council are being instructed to work from home one day a month in a bid to save money.

Across the county, staff will be taking 'environment' days on the last Friday of every month and will be encouraged to work from home.

Although the chief executive of the council admits this may prove problematic for some, the cost-cutting measures have been brought in with immediate effect.

In a letter circulated to staff this week, Clive Wright said he had been asked by the council's Cabinet to enforce a spending freeze across the council.

While the Friday working pattern comes in to force at the end of the month, from January all council buildings will close on a Friday at noon and staff will work on a "mobile/agile basis".

Mr Wright said the council would be monitoring the savings such a working pattern would have within the authority including expenditure for heating and lighting as well as savings in travel.

"We are aware that for some this will be relatively easy, whilst for others it will throw up problems – which we want reported to line managers and on to directors, so that we can resolve these," said Mr Wright.

Documents

"This marks a change in the management approach where managers allocate and monitor work alone, rather than time at the workplace."

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He is also asking staff to consider the cost to the environment of printing documents and is urging them to become more aware.

The cost of printing for the council is £300,000 per year with more than 1.5 million copies being made. A team has now been set up to monitor the amount of printing done by a team of workers as well as by individual members of staff.

"We realise that some of these initiatives will cause problems for some staff and this is an opportunity to raise these with your line manager. As we move to become a more mobile and agile organisation we need to identify problems and barriers quickly and find solutions. I am confident the budget overspend can be reduced," added Mr Wright.

The council is facing a budgetary overspend of £6.9 million on a gross budget of £561.95 million this financial year.

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The authority predicted that the main overspend will come in children’s services, at just more than £3 million, while it also expects to overspend in adult services, place, commercial services, finance, governance and assurance, workforce and transformation and public health.

Clive Wright's letter in full

Shropshire Council's chief executive Clive Wright

Dear Colleague,

This year’s budget is proving to be a challenge and consequently I have been asked by the Cabinet to implement a spending freeze across the Council with immediate effect.

This means that officers should not commit any expenditure that can be avoided. if you are in any doubt, please consult your line manager/director. In previous years trusting staff to apply appropriate and discretionary judgement has delivered excellent results and so this approach will be taken again this year.

In addition to the spending freeze, we also want to save money in other ways. This will include:

Environment Days: On the last Friday of every month, beginning in November, staff will be asked to work from home. This will begin our transition to mobile and agile working. We will monitor savings in travel and opening buildings. We are aware that for some this will be relatively easy, whilst for others it will throw up problems – which we want reported to line managers and on to Directors, so that we can resolve these. This marks a change in the management approach where managers allocate and monitor work alone, rather than time at the workplace. This should reduce travel, heating and lighting costs and our impact on the environment.

Lock Out: In addition to ‘Environment Days’, we plan from January 2019 to enforce a closure of all buildings at 12.00 noon on Friday and ask staff to work on a mobile/agile basis.

Printing: The cost of printing in the Council is a colossal £300,000 per annum with over 1.5 million copies being made. We are now monitoring print by team and soon by individual. As we move to being mobile and agile, I would ask you to please only print when it is essential.

As stated above, we realise that some of these initiatives will cause problems for some staff and this is an opportunity to raise these with your line manager. As we move to become a more mobile and agile organisation we need to identify problems and barriers quickly and find solutions.

I am confident that with your help the budget overspend can be reduced. I am grateful in advance for your cooperation.

Best Wishes

Clive Wright, Chief Executive, Shropshire Council

Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman
@shroptod

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.

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