Haringey Council plans to cut dozens more jobs risk risking an even further worsening of service levels.
The council has already been forced to almost halve its workforce after having millions of pounds wiped off its budget over the past nine years due to Government cost-cutting measures.
It is now planning to save a further £4.25 million over two years by axing another 62 full-time equivalent jobs amid an ongoing shift to online customer self-service.
Officers leading the restructure claim it will lead to improvements in the way the council interacts with residents. But representatives from Unison warned councillors at the overview and scrutiny committee last week against worsening an already “toxic” working environment.
How's it going for you? Have you seen an improvement of service levels recently?
A shift to self service suggests frontline cuts. I'm not sure they have any capacity there to take out. I visited CS in Wood Green last week, arriving just after 9am and still taking nearly 75 minutes to be seen. Once it was clear to the CS officer that I wasn't going to bite their head off for nearly refusing to serve me (the 'gatekeeper' staff member at the front apparently put me in the wrong ticket system) conversation drifted to bank holiday weekend plans, then in turn to the amount of overtime they were being asked to do due short staffing. She politely apologised for the delay and confusion and I went on my way with my business complete.
As far as 'online self service' goes, Homes for Haringey operates an online facility which tenants can sign up to called 'seemydata'. I haven't been told about it at any point, but found it via the website and signed up following a mess-up on the part of Civica which saw an online rent payment crash out before it had processed. Additionally, and totally unadvertised also, is an online repairs booking service which allows you to click on a diagram of a typical home to log repairs for HfH's attention. I did this for a bit of fun, picking up on a faulty bathroom extractor which I hadn't flagged yet. This system crashed out before I had a chance to select a date. Next working day at 9:15am an electrician arrived to fix it!
Still work to do all around..
Forcing residents to access services online will make Haringey even more remote from the people they were elected to serve. It's a bad policy all round.
I think you’ve made an important point about vulnerable people accessing service Anka. As money has reduced the threshold for those able to qualify for some services has risen, especially services like social care. Those qualifying for services are more likely to have higher levels of poverty and disability and therefore lower levels of access to, and ability to use, technology. A move to greater reliance on technology to access services runs the risk of disenfranchising those who have the greatest need of them.
If Haringey are going down this route they need to commit to testing access methods to breaking point and to do this with the people who are going to find it the most challenging to use them.
I have seen a lot of improvements recently, both online and on the phone. Thanks to the internet, emails and the power of local councillors, I have been impressed with the wealth of information available and the solutions offered for problems. The last think we need is a big bureaucracy to hamper change. What Haringey council does is what hundreds of councils do across the UK and they share technology and ideas. Fewer staff on the council means local ratepayers get lower bills.
Out of Interest How many are employed at Civic Centre ?
What Services do they Offer Rate Payers ?
As Not aware of any Service departments operating out of Civic Centre
From visits to Stuart Crescent Health Centre. it seems that they still park in Residential Bays