Shropshire Council staff told to work at home to save money

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image captionConservative-run Shropshire Council said it was struggling to balance its budget

A council has told its staff they must work from home one day a month in a bid to balance its budget.

In September, Shropshire Council revealed it was already predicting an £6.8m overspend on its gross budget of £561.95m for this financial year.

Staff are being asked to work from home on the last Friday of every month, and from January council buildings will shut at noon every Friday.

Chief executive Clive Wright said this would help reduce the overspend.

In an email sent to all staff Mr Wright said he had been asked by the council's cabinet to implement a spending freeze with immediate effect.

The local authority admitted the work from home rule "will throw up problems" for some, but it said it was needed to reduce heating and lighting costs at the council's Shirehall headquarters.

The Conservative-run council is also monitoring how much staff were printing as it costs them "a colossal" £300,000 a year.

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image captionShropshire Council overspent by £3.1m on children's services

Stuart Richards of union GMB said they were calling for an urgent meeting with the council.

He said: "There are lots of different things they have to do to get it right, if they want people to be working from home."

'Poor management'

The council's Labour group leader Alan Mosley said the council was "clearly in crisis".

He added: "I am very concerned that this is a precursor to even deeper cuts in the future, which are seriously harming families and communities I represent."

In a report examined by the council's cabinet, officers said £3.1m of the overspend was down to children's services, with the "increasing complexity" of protecting vulnerable children a major factor.

Speaking to BBC Radio Shropshire, council leader Peter Nutting admitted the work from home rule had a mixed reaction from staff, but could save up to £300,000.

He said: "If we don't have the reception and maintenance staff in Shirehall, we believe we will save money. It is an experiment."

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