Tories telling local councils to halt what has until now been a successful trial of the flexible working style.
Disappointing news this past week as the Conservatives have told local councils that the four-day week trial is not demonstrating value for money to the taxpayers.
The scheme has been a clear success at South Cambridgeshire Council, which has been engaged in a trial since January. But now the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has said it should not be done anywhere else at council level.
South Cambridgeshire Council is run by the Liberal Democrats. Its leader Bridget Smith told the BBC they, “saw performance generally maintained, and in some cases improved – with not a single area falling to a concerning level”.
She added there was “strong evidence” that it helped “fill hard to recruit posts” and saved money. The council offices are still open five days a week.
Apparently, none of that matters to the government, whose spokesperson, Conservative minister Lee Rowley explained, “There are times when government deems it proportionate to step in to ensure that residents’ value for money is protected. The issue of the four-day working week is one of those times.”
Aside from being short-sighted and decidedly inflexible, it seems no-one is interested in speaking to the people actually doing the trial to see what works and what could be improved. Smith told the Beeb, “I wish the Government would take up our offer of talking to us in-person about the trial, so we can outline all the benefits we can evidence.”
She added, “On one hand Government tells us to innovate to cut costs and provide higher quality services; on the other they tell us not to innovate to deliver services.”
Results from the trial so far have been encouraging, although it’s clear some businesses are starting to vacillate over the best course of action in a post-Covid world of work. Do we go back to how it was before, or do we try something different given we know we can adapt? Many companies realise things can and need to change – and that it will help them in the long run.
Obviously others, sadly, not so much.