Hounslow Defends Its 'Non-Jobs'

After TaxPayers' Alliance reveal true cost of 'unnecessary' Council posts


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Hounslow Council has hit back at a recent report by TaxPayers' Alliance that said 'non-jobs' such as Climate Change Officers, Political Advisors, Diversity Officers and European Officers are costing taxpayers £41 million a year.

The TaxPayers' Alliance claim that these non-frontline workers are doing jobs that could be cut, without putting frontline services at risk.

Hounslow Council who employ three Political Advisors at a cost of £108,618 and a Diversity Officer at a cost of £73,580 as well as three Climate Change Officers say these workers 'save hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money.'

Three officers at the council have responsibility for climate change and energy management, focussing on the development of a range of projects affecting the borough including noise, climate change, sustainability and biodiversity.

According to the Council, calculations for 2009 show approximately £245,000 of taxpayers’ money has been saved over one year through improving energy procurement practices, by identifying sites out-of-contract, changing corporate contracts and updating outdated heating and lighting equipment. Further year on year savings are expected in the coming years.

Chris Daniel, Policy Analyst at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Councils need to cut spending and start delivering value for money to hard-working taxpayers, but not all spending cuts affect frontline services.

"Many household budgets are under huge pressure and council tax has doubled in the last decade, but this money isn't necessarily going on the services households rely on most. Cutting down on staff doing unnecessary jobs is one way councils can save money without affecting those frontline services.

"These jobs are all the result of councils going too far in following the edicts of central government, instead of focussing on local priorities; or chasing grants that are, in the end, more than paid for by British taxpayers. Over time, we should move towards a situation where interference from Whitehall doesn't encourage this sort of waste. But right now councils can deliver better value for money by cutting these jobs."

Cllr Corinna Smart, Hounslow’s lead member for the environment said: “The Audit Commission Report 1985 recommends one full time member of staff dedicated to energy matters per £1m of energy expenditure, meaning we are well below this figure in terms of staff members.

“However what is clear is that the roles that touch on climate change at the Council not only provide environmental benefits to the borough, but also significant financial benefits in terms of the savings we make.

“All councils are feeling the pinch at the moment and are being squeezed with a significant reduction in funding from central government as outlined in yesterday’s Comprehensive Spending Review, but we have to be realistic in terms of where we save money. The knock-on effect of cuts we make could have catastrophic consequences to our frontline services and overall budget."

October 21, 2010