Council productivity lags far behind private sector, survey claims
Local government staff productivity lags far behind the private sector, indicating the potential for sizable cost savings without the need to axe services, consultants are poised to report.A forthcoming study by management consultants Knox D’Arcy – leaked to the Conservative Home website and based on daily ‘shadowing’ of senior staff within local government and private sector bodies - suggests the level of ‘active’ staff management by senior council officials is low, averaging just 3%.
As a consequence, the consultants claim that over two-thirds (68%) of the working day of junior staff in local government is ‘lost’, often through poor supervision.
Classic examples of ‘lost’ productivity included time staff spent chatting socially, time spent awaiting instructions from managers and time lost to late arrivals at work.
Councils’ 32% effective utilisation rate contrasts with 44% in the private sphere.
The consultants claim increasing local government productivity to private sector levels could allow a typical county council employing 30,000 people to cut their staff by 8,000 and still achieve similar outcomes.
Extrapolated across the UK, the report infers local government could achieve its current outcomes with almost half a million fewer staff if it increased productivity to private sector levels.
Report author Paul Weekes said: ‘By matching average private sector staff utilisation levels, local government could increase its productivity by roughly a third.
‘This sort of dramatic increase would help significantly offset the cuts that are on the agenda as part of the government’s austerity package.’
Mr Weekes’ report also claims councils and other public bodies ‘lack the skills within their management teams to drive the scale of efficiencies being requested by the Treasury.’
LocalGov.co.uk is awaiting responses to the Knox D’Arcy report from local government sources.
John Ransford, Chief Executive of the Local Government Group, said: 'Local government employs 1.1 million people. This is a survey of just 173 local government officers over the past 20 years.
'Unlike organisations operating in the private sector, councils have to operate within the constraint of red tape and bureaucracy imposed by central government and the quango state. The Local Government Group has set out to government a comprehensive programme of reform of the public sector that could deliver billions of pounds worth of savings by axing costly middlemen and stripping away unnecessary bureaucracy.
'We are working with councils on a new National Productivity Programme which will look at how they can continue to make better use of their staff. This drive for improved efficiency will ensure that new ways of working will be in place as soon as possible so the frontline services on which people depend will not be damaged.'
Here we go again - a report by people in a consultancy who do not understand the sector they're reporting on using models that don't fit! You can't judge productivity in a service environment in the same way as other sectors. What do you want us to do? Write more reports, do more briefings, wash more people, give more medication? We are led by community need not profit and in 20 years that's all I've been doing - more for less. This consultancy is jumping on the new government bandwagon.Linda UK, Added: Tuesday, 24 August 2010 02:25 PM
I don't know who commissioned this study. Presumably not the NHS with their 300 millions (subject to criticism) but that it was leaked to the Conservative website and the Daily Telegraph is interesting. By the same process of extrapolation as Know Darcy use we all seem to be paying twice as much we should for anything we purchase from the private sector. If they made that more efficient then we could carry on regardless and still be quids in!Tim Quinn, Added: Monday, 23 August 2010 02:43 PM
And the methodology? I know that I am at best sceptical and at worst cynical, but am I the only on to think that somebody who posts the report on a Conservative website probably found the results they ere looking for, as opposed to then truth?Claudio, Resident, North East, Added: Friday, 20 August 2010 05:32 PM
and what exactly is "the private sector"? A branch of *****, RBS head office, the bloke who's coming with his son to lay our new drive, my local garage man, the contractor who went bust doing the town square, the British Gas call-centre? All 44% efficient? And the 30,000 staff of every "typical" county council - teachers, social workers, solicitors, binmen, dinner ladies -all 32% efficient are they? God save me from people who extrapolate the massively general from the highly sselective.John Emms , Added: Friday, 20 August 2010 04:20 PM
Nothing more than a PR story for a management consultancy touting for work hoping we'll spend our money on getting them to tell us how we should be saving it.Emma Marsh, Added: Friday, 20 August 2010 03:13 PM
The problem with Paul Weekes' supposition is that like most consultants he's not telling us anything we don't already know. John Ransford said as much. If the government leaves us to deliver outcomes for our residents without the "constraint of red tape and bureaucracy imposed by central government and the quango state" then we could do just that. We should also stop spending money on consultants who tell us stuff we already know and charge us for the privilege.Simon Blake, Norfolk County Council, Head of Corporate Templates, Added: Friday, 20 August 2010 01:13 PM
How will putting tens of thousands of people out of work help? More people on benefits, more people losing their homes, less people paying income tax and NI etc, more discontent. Not an easy balancing act. Just proves that you can't rely on the results of reports on specific issues without also considering the wider context.alan hunt, Added: Friday, 20 August 2010 11:49 AM
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