Council admits defeat on staff travel savings plan
A council’s plan to substantially cut its staff travel bill will have to be revisited after officers admitted it was “unpractical”.
In 2014, consultants appointed by Gwynedd Council recommended that the authority could save 15% of its staff travel budget by establishing pool car arrangements and improved management of journeys.
But despite initially hoping that the plan would save as much as £390,000 a year, a new report accepts that the “ambitious estimate” is “unpractical” and has now set itself a much lower target of £120,000 – meaning that over £270,000 of savings will have to be found elsewhere.
Specialist consultants Edge Public Solutions had recommended several measures to cut down on expenditure, including cutting the mileage rate for all journeys over 60 miles in private vehicles from 45p to 35p per mile.
This was despite acknowledging that it was not possible for all staff to use pool cars, especially domiciliary carers and supply teachers.
But the new report, approved by the cabinet, concedes that the previously “over-optimistic” savings target should be reduced from £390,000 to £120,000 after consulting with the individual targets.
Councillors were told that efforts were already underway to cut down on journeys where possible, including using video conferencing and asking staff to consider if any car trips were “absolutely necessary.”
But even using pool cars cost the authority an average of 35p a mile after maintenance and other costs were also taken into account.
Chief Executive, Dilwyn Williams, conceded that aspects of the plan had proven to be “unworkable” due to the rural nature of the county, with staff having a tendency to be scattered around.
While the head of finance, Dafydd L Edwards, was hopeful that the central government settlement would turn out to be “better than had been feared,” as it tries to set a budget for 2020/21.
His report, approved by Gwynedd Council’s cabinet last week, went on to note: “By now, I agree with the author of the report that the ambitious estimate provided by “EDGE”, outlining how much could be saved from staff travel was over-optimistic, or that departments have already realised a proportion of the relevant savings.
“Therefore, the value of the historic savings plan must be adjusted
“If the Cabinet were to approve the decision sought, we would reduce the total savings from this plan from £390,000 to £117,998.
“Of course, this would add £272,002 to the Council’s funding gap for 2020/21, but we must plan on sound basis.
“Furthermore, reports will be submitted to the scrutiny committees in November detailing departmental proposals for £ 2m of potential savings to be realised in 2020/21.”
By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter
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