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Inside Out - Political fears over interims

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I really don’t like this time of year. Christmas is long gone and spring is too far away. Mostly, though, it is because the budget-setting council meeting is looming.

It is the culmination of a lot of behind the scenes work and discussion. But it is now out in the open, especially where there are cuts and redundancies. These days the latter follows budgets like high blood pressure follows a Pickles speech.

The decisions are the easy bit, although they take a lot of careful preparation. The difficult stuff follows with the implementation.

The burden of managing the change is falling on fewer shoulders as senior management is now paper thin

I hate redundancies and closures. I’ve had to oversee many waves of them over the years, but you never get used to them. The effect on peoples’ lives, whether employees or people who depend on services we are reducing or stopping, are obviously difficult. What I find equally difficult is the effect it has on the emotion of the council. It is quite sapping.

The burden of managing the change is falling on fewer shoulders as senior management is now paper thin. That’s why we use short-term interims to help us manage the change well. Now these too are under threat and being questioned since Pickles announced that a review of the use of consultants in the civil service will extend to us.

It makes so much sense to the local taxpayer. We employ ‘change agents’ only at this time of the year. They make sure we don’t make mistakes and end up in employment tribunals, and they look after staff at risk as well as we can. We also don’t have to pay any pension contributions as they are not employees.

And they pay their taxes and national insurance. We always make sure they abide by Inland Revenue rule 35 (IR35), which states that, if they are doing a job in
an organisation, they must pay PAYE and NI as if they were employees.

So it is a win for everybody. My politicians are now very worried at being ‘caught’ using ‘tax dodgers’. It is sound and helpful to employ people in this way but such words make better headlines than ‘IR35 saves the day’! Yet again a fear of Pickles will likely lead to daft decisions.

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The one thing he won’t comment on is his identity…

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