Council creates more top-paid jobs as axe falls on frontline

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THE number of top-paid posts at the city council has increased, while frontline jobs have been axed.

New figures show over the past three years almost 300 full-time equivalent jobs have been shed in the lowest three grades, which pay under £16,850.

However, Grade 10 and Grade 12 posts, with salaries of between £48,975 and £77,625, have jumped by 11.

The extra jobs in the top grades involved an additional wage bill of almost £1 million.

READ MORE: Care in crisis: Edinburgh has no cash to cover rising need for home care

Tom Connolly, branch secretary for Unison, said council chiefs had said the authority’s recent “transformation” programme, involving major job cuts, would mean a reduction in management.

But he said: “It seems instead there is an increase in management. That is a real concern for us. Why is it happening when we are really struggling at the coalface?”

Mr Connolly said the top posts were increasing, while the cuts in lower grades left council employees like carers and housing officers over worked and suffering from stress.

A total of 942.9 full-time equivalent jobs in Grades 1-12 were shed between June 2015 and May this year.

One of the biggest falls was in Grade 3 posts, which includes many frontline care workers, where posts were cut by 203, from 2374 to 2171.

There were also big reductions in middle management roles. Grade 5 posts were reduced by 238.5, from 1808.4 to 1569.9, and Grade 7 posts by 221, from 1520.3 to 1299.3.

But Grade 10 posts rose from 117.5 to 120.9 and Grade 12 from 30.6 to 39. These are senior manager roles, but not directors who have a separate pay structure.

Green finance spokesperson, Cllr Gavin Corbett, said: “Over the last three years the council has shed almost 1000 staff as funding becomes ever tighter. Much of that has been painful, but if there has to be pain it is important it is equally shared.

“That does not seem to be the case, with the two of the highest grades seeing numbers increase at a cost of almost £1m amid a £15m cut in staff costs. That cannot be right.

“However, the bigger picture is whether such pain is needed at all. The Scottish Government needs to commit to giving councils the money and the freedom over finances they need, so they can make wider choices about whether much-needed services have to be cut at all.”

And Tory finance spokesman Iain Whyte said: “The whole point of the council reorganisation was to reduce management and refocus the money on frontline services, but these figures suggest that has not happened.”

A council spokeswoman said: “As part of redesigning our services and structures, intended to provide the best quality of service to Edinburgh residents, we have overall reduced and flattened our management structure. We have also taken steps to introduce a number of new key leadership roles. This has resulted in a slight increase of senior management roles, which include the introduction of new roles aimed to align and deliver services locally to meet the needs of our communities.”