Local Government Employers fears for human resources when authorities merge

Senior council HR staff have “major concerns” that top management positions will be available through open competition rather than internal transfer when 48 local authorities reduce to nine, according to an employers’ body.

Local Government Employers, which negotiates on council pay, pensions and employment contracts, have warned that the lack of guarantee of transferring posts at a senior level may lead to high staff turnover and poor retention in the run up to the merge, which is expected to take place officially in April 2009.

The Communities and Local Government (CLG) department announced the planned shake-up of local authorities in July to save £150m a year.

Jon Sutcliffe, principle strategic adviser at LGE, told Personnel Today: “HR practitioners have major concerns about the government’s assumption that open competition may apply to chief executives and other senior posts down the structure when the reorganisation takes place.

“This might make it difficult to retain people in post who will be needed to manage the transition process. The whole effect on retention and recruitment on top jobs will be there, because of not guaranteeing transfers within,” he said.

He added that while the restructuring was supposed to save money, many of the contractual issues, such as evaluating jobs and business reorganisation, were costly.

Sutcliffe also admitted the government’s enthusiasm for the restructure had “waned” since the initial White Paper a few years ago.

“The government is bound to have noticed the savings it was expecting in the medium-term [as a result of the reorganisation] are not going to amount to very much, so they won’t be feeling as enthusiastic as they were.”

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