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Hundreds of council jobs could move to cut costs
HUNDREDS of school jobs across Worcestershire face being privatised, it has emerged.
Worcestershire County Council wants to save money by outsourcing the jobs of school support staff to an external provider.
The controversial move would affect workers employed by County Hall in areas like IT, finance and HR that specifically help schools function.
The cash-strapped authority, which is battling to shave around £100m off spending by 2018, says it is exploring “alternative external providers”.
Although it has refused to put a number on the people potentially affected, union figures say they expect between 200 and 400 staff to be implicated.
The idea is in its very early stages, but the Conservative cabinet will be asked to give permission in October for formal consultation to start with schools.
The outsourcing could result in a private company taking it over, or organisations like social enterprises, not-for-profit bodies or even other councils.
Unison has labelled it “a disastrous idea” and say it is prepared to oppose a handover in principle.
Jim Price, Unison Worcestershire branch secretary, said: “We’ve heard officers saying they consider schools to be a distraction to the council, which is appalling.
“If this ends up going badly parents and teachers could suffer - the schools support staff deal with administration, property, everything which helps them function. “From our point of view it’s a disastrous idea.”
It has also been criticised by the opposition Labour group.
Councillor Peter McDonald, group leader, said: “We’ve already had too many schools convert to academies, and now the council wants to wash its hands of the support staff too.
“It’s not acceptable - these jobs should stay in-house.”
Bosses say “no formal decision” has been made, and that schools will get another chance to have their say if the cabinet approves the consultation on Thursday October 3.
Councillor Liz Eyre, cabinet member for children and families, said: “We recently started engaging and informing schools through the schools' forum about the future provision of these services.
“Our approach is consistent with the additional freedoms and responsibilities that schools now have and the role they are taking, and are expected to take in the future.”
Councillor John Campion, cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, said: “We have recently started engaging schools to gain their feedback and input as we consider our options, including the possibility of securing alternative external providers."
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