This morning we came across one of those stories of council waste at which we simply didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. That is, one Glasgow newspaper has revealed today that Glasgow City Council and its arm’s-length organisations have spent a shocking £425,000 on self-congratulatory staff award ceremonies since 2012.
The ceremonies are dubbed ‘Staff recognition and excellence awards’ and involve staff of the local authority being handed awards for their work on the council, though the paper reports that one gong awarded is merely a congratulations for length of time served. They take place at various swish venues throughout Scotland’s most populous city: the Royal Concert Hall and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum being just two examples.
Of course, this is an issue that the TPA has looked at before when we surveyed all local authorities on their award ceremony spending.
To put this into context, earlier this year Glasgow City Council officials reported that they might have to reduce spending by the authority by 7 per cent; that is around £100 million of further reductions. Over the past three financial years, the council has been confronted with savings of between £20 million and £30 million.
Of course, spending reductions are necessary, but no doubt tough: pay restraints have been put into place, departments are under pressure and a voluntary redundancy programme is in force. So the question does have to be asked: shouldn’t the council have immediately cut the frivolous spending on award ceremonies?