Merton puts forward wide reaching changes

Merton’s cabinet last night (12 October 2009) agreed a first set of budget proposals that will yield over £8 million of savings, many of which have come forward in response to the council’s efficiency drive, through improved procurement and reductions in staffing.

Work to identify further savings in response to the council’s long-term transformation programme is ongoing and will be reported back to cabinet on 14 December 2009.

The savings proposals include organisational changes to departments and the loss of 96 posts for 2010/11. Most of these posts will be lost through voluntary redundancies and the elimination of vacant posts, though there may also be compulsory redundancies.

Although the council has accepted 65 voluntary redundancies or early retirements to date, a further 211 staff members have put themselves forward for voluntary redundancy or early retirement. Officers are currently evaluating organisational and process changes that would enable these applications to be accepted, any such proposals forthcoming will be considered at cabinet on 14 December 2009.

Merton’s 2010/2011 budget papers will now go forward to a number of scrutiny panels; savings proposals will not be finalised until they have been through a further round of formal scrutiny in the new year, with the budget being voted on at full council on 3 March 2010.

Councillor Diane Neil Mills, cabinet member for finance and regeneration said:

“Like many local councils, Merton is facing some very difficult decisions during this budget round and will continue to be under pressure to reduce expenditure for the foreseeable future. Having to lose staff is not a situation in which any organisation wants to find itself. Employees are our greatest asset and we must ensure that we maintain the integrity of the organisation and the ability to deliver high quality services.

“We are still in the early stages of this budget round and it is clear that there remains a lot of work to do to ensure a balanced budget is presented to council and that we continue to offer our residents the best value for money.”

Merton’s Medium Term Financial Forecast, presented to council no 4 March 2009, reflected a budget gap of £14.5million for 2010/11.
There are 2543 full time staff, excluding teachers, employed by Merton Council for the 2009/10 period.