The Prime Minister has criticised service reductions at South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) and urged them to reconsider their four-day working week programme.
As part of the regular Prime Minister’s Question Time, South Cambs’ MP Anthony Browne raised the continuing trial of a four-day working week for SCDC’s staff. Highlighting the increased costs and reduction in services following the Four Day week trail, which includes an increase in the proportion of phone calls answered and huge rises in the time to process benefit claims, Mr Browne sought the Prime Minister’s view asking:
“Liberal Democrat run South Cambridgeshire District Council is the first in the country to put its staff on a four day week without any reduction in pay. It has led to a reduction in services and an increase in costs, and yet last week the Liberal Democrats decided to increase the trial to a year. Why? Because the staff were happier! And now Unions are pushing to spread a 4 day working week across the public sector, something that the TaxPayers Alliance estimate would cost £30bn. Does my RHF the Prime Minister agree with me that the public sector are here to serve the public, and the Liberal Democrats aren’t working?”
In response to a question from Anthony Browne, MP for South Cambridgeshire, the Prime Minister reiterated his point and called on the Council to reconsider their proposals, saying:
“Public servants should rightly focus on delivering for the public and taxpayers, and it is disappointing to hear from my Hon. Friend that his local Liberal Democrat Council is not doing this, reducing – as I heard – staff contact hours and costing residents more. I urge the Council to reconsider their decision because his residents and constituents in South Cambridgeshire District Council deserve better”
According to figures produced by the Taxpayers Alliance, instituting a four-day working week to all public sector workers could lead to £29.6 billion in lost working time every year, equivalent of a 5 per cent rise in income tax. The Council is also projected to spend over £132,000 more hiring binmen, according to draft proposals seen by The Telegraph, and scrap bin collections on Mondays for around 131,000 households as the trial continues.
Mr Browne commented: “What is happening in South Cambs is a travesty that deserves national attention. Residents are putting up with poorer services and increase in costs, as a result of a policy they have had no vote on. The Lib Dems insist that there has been no reduction in service levels, but they must torture the data to do so. I urge them to listen to the Prime Minister and rethink the policy of putting the interests of council staff above those of residents”