Thursday, 27 October 2011

Save the back office at all costs

I got the data from one of the other friends groups on the savings being made by the roll out of self service across the larger libraries. No staff are being sacked (unlike the rural libraries) but natural wastage is being used to cull the numbers. It still means less front line staff in libraries though. What confirmation of these figures means is we can see how the cuts are spread within the service with the actual data. My last post on this was projected on the data we had available at the time. It is more or less as expected though. The library service is being cut by 25% and of that 25%  almost all the cuts are to the front line 86.22%.  Keith clearly doesn't understand Tory policy:

So not only are the rural libraries taking a bigger proportion of the cuts to their existing spend 66% & 33% to the 15% in the city libraries and 15% of back office. The back office is only taking 13.78% of total cuts. How this fits with Tory policy and ideology I have no idea.

It does get worse though, this doesnt include the internal recharge costs of the library service. We know OCC are very inefficient compared to other shire authorities as I showed in a previous post:

This is the costs of IT, HR, admin, payroll etc to OCC that are not part of the library service but are incurred costs of running it. Compared to Staffordshire and Notts, Oxfordshire CC are performing woefully. You would imagine they would be bearing down hard on these costs. But no, according to the CIPFA submissions they are only estimating this going down from 3.2 million to 3.1 million:

This is only a 3.1% decrease. This is estimate, but the total has gone up since 2008 and they are only projecting it to decrease very slightly. They have had plenty time to sort out their back office, this is really poor when you consider bigger library services in other shire counties can do it for considerably cheaper.

As a proportion of the total spend the back office is going to increase if this is how Keith does efficiency. In fact under the proposals it is likely the back office spend will end up bigger than the front line spend if you include the internal recharge in the total.

Keith will keep spouting the social care v libraries nonsense to wind the voters of Oxfordshire up and muddy the waters. He should get the back office sorted before a single front line service gets cut. By the time voters get a chance to have their say on his competence in 2013 he will be long gone as his division will have disappeared.

I think any Tory that votes for this proposal should think very hard about what their party stood for at the election, what their party policy is on cuts and should we pay taxes then have to provide services to ourselves.

This is an issue of right and wrong, the savings can be made without touching the front line. OCC hasn't tried.


  1. The pity of it all is that the money spent on RFID will have to spent again within a short while as OCC have - like so many other local authorities - opted not to wait for industry standards and ploughed ahead with an entirely proprietary solution that has no future, cannot take advantage of new developments and cannot easily be replaced.

  2. They want to spend money on things that are shiny and new and lose sight of what the service is supposed to provide in the first place. While cutting the front line in Oxfordshire they are about to rollout ebooks and free wireless in the libraries. There is little evidence that library users want these extra services and in fact for free wireless in cities there is already good provision. With regards to ebooks they are quite cheap to buy and I imagine the tablet/kindle users can be counted on one had within the current active library users. I suspect users would rather keep their libraries open and fully staffed than have extras that there is little demand for. OCC are not a authority who listen though to what taxpayers want sadly.