Binmen get iPads despite cash cuts

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binmen and road sweepers are set to be given iPads, laptops and top-of-the-range mobile phones in a move which would result in job losses.

Doncaster Council has announced plans to upgrade its IT systems over the next year as part of a £365,000 package, which could see people lose their jobs with the technology making their jobs unnecessary.

The council, which has to save £70 million by 2015, has already made 268 job cuts over the last two years in a bid to balance the books, but Simon Wiles the director of finance and corporate services predicts there could be as many as 1,000 more staff axed over the next four years.

At a meeting of the overview and scrutiny management committee, Mr Wiles said: “We have now got into the advanced stages of Streetscene, where all of our front line services will have some kind of handheld devices.

“Rubbish collectors or street cleaners will have laptops in covers which could be used to stay in touch with contact centres.

“This means we would need less people to do jobs, but we would have reduced costs through reduced staff but we become much more efficient as a result.”

The idea behind the scheme is that call centre staff can speak to the public about issues such as damage to council homes or overflowing bins then directly email workers on the street to carry out the work, without having to return to the depot.

It is hoped this will cut the number of duplicate calls logged by people and will mean the person carrying out the work will be able to email the caller back directly to say the job has been done. It will also save time meaning workers can fit in more jobs per day, the council says.

Mr Wiles added: “The council spends 60 per cent of it’s budget on staffing and given we are facing £18 million cuts over the next two years you have to expect there will be further job losses.”

The scheme will be paid for out of certain council department’s budget underspends over the last financial year.

As part of the IT upgrade the council will also be investing in ‘cloud’ storage systems, where files would be backed up at a remote server, a new video conferencing suite and installing the new CCQ building with Wifi facilities.

Also on the agenda were collection rates of council tax payments, which has risen to just over 96 per cent, cutting the number of sickness days taken by staff, and how to get 18 to 25-year-olds not in employment of training into jobs.