Four-day ‘value for money’ trial ended for ‘value for money’ | British News

South Cambridgeshire Borough CouncilThe council has called for the four-day-a-week experiment to be

South Cambridgeshire Borough Council wanted its trial to continue until next April (Image: Google)

A minister has told a council to end its four-day trial “immediately” over concerns over “value for money for the taxpayer”.

South Cambridgeshire County Council recently voted to extend its shorter workweek experiment until next April, but on the ground Government Secretary Lee Rowley has announced plans to abolish it.

He wrote a letter to council leader Bridget Smith on Friday, which said: “All councils are expected to ensure that finite and valuable taxpayers’ money is spent in a way that provides value for money shows.”

Mr Rowley argued that “paying staff for an extra day of work that is not performed is unlikely to reflect” this expectation.

He wrote: “I strongly believe in the ability of councils to innovate and find new ways to meet their responsibilities – but cutting up to 20% of the capacity to carry out these activities should be of value to a council wants to prove is unacceptable.” for money for its taxpayers and residents.

“While some private sector organizations may be experimenting with their own capital and ‘four-day work week’ capacities, local governments should not be doing the same.

“I look forward to your confirmation that South Cambridgeshire will return to established norms for local government staff capacity in the coming weeks.”

Lee Rowley is Secretary of State for Local Government and Building Safety (Image: Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament)

In fact, introducing a four-day workweek could amount to a breach of the local council’s statutory duties under the Local Government Act, Rowley said.

He added that the Department for Leveling, Housing and Communities will issue “clear guidance shortly” on the matter.

But Ms Smith, in her reply on Saturday, defended the decision to cut staff workweeks by one day without changing their salaries.

She said she was “surprised” to receive the letter and asked for “a meeting with ministers to discuss the matter”.

She argued that during the first three months of the trial, “there was already compelling, independently assessed evidence showing performance was maintained and, in some cases, improved.”

Council urged end of four-day week experiment

Bridget Smith is the Liberal Democrat leader of South Cambridgeshire Borough Council (Image: Borough Council Network)

The Liberal Democrat City Council wrote: “At the start of our process we had an annual agency bill of £2million on us.”

“During the first three months of the process, we filled four permanent positions that were previously vacant.”

“This has reduced our annual bill by £300,000.”

“Over time, it is becoming increasingly clear that recruitment has had a positive impact, both in terms of the quality and number of applicants and the resulting success in filling vacancies.”

Several companies around the world have considered adopting a four-day workweek, with proponents believing the five-day, 9am-5pm workweek is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.

The head of the 4-day workweek campaign group, Joe Ryle, said: “This move by the government goes against all the evidence showing that the four-day workweek was a huge success in Council.”

“The four-day work week with no pay cut is already being rolled out across the private sector, so it’s only fair that the public sector is getting involved as well.”

“There is no good reason to end this process, which is already bringing many benefits to community workers and local residents, and is saving the community money.”

In a recent trial in the UK, 61 companies reduced working hours for all employees by 20% over six months in the world’s largest experiment of its kind.

The employees were interviewed before and after the study. 71% said they experienced less burnout, 39% said they were less stressed, 40% slept better, and 54% said it was easier to balance work and chores.

Workplaces also benefited, with sick days falling by two thirds and the likelihood of employees staying with the company increasing by 57%. Productivity also remained stable in most cases and company turnover increased by 1.4% on average.

About 92% of participating companies, including chip shops, financial services companies, online retailers and animation studios, extended the trial period or made the four-day week permanent.

Some of the employers who participated in the process

  • Citizens Council Gateshead
  • Tyler Grange environmental consultancy
  • Rivelin Robotics
  • charity bank
  • Royal Society of Biology
  • Platte’s Chip Shop
  • Brewing with pressure drop
  • trio media

South Cambridgeshire County Council was the first local authority to try the four-day week between January and March this year.

They believe the program helps “attract and retain talented colleagues” who “can do 100% of their work in 80% of their contracted hours for 100% of their pay.”

Council data was independently analyzed by the University of Cambridge’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy.

It concluded that nine of the 16 monitored areas showed “significant improvement” when comparing the test period to the same months of the previous year.

The other seven domains “either stayed the same or saw a slight decrease,” but in no case did performance “decrease to a worrying level during the trial.”

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Justin Scaccy

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