When most people think about the council they think of bins. The only time you hear about the council on the news is when bin collectors are on strike again, and how people are complaining about having to pay for their garden waste to be taken away. Not many people actually know all of the things that your tax payers money goes on. And not many people care. If someone says they work for a council people will usually think they’re on holiday all the time and paid a fortune. I have worked alongside councils in the UK, so let me tell you, there is a lot more to it.
Working for councils
There have been a lot of cuts in funding to local authorities. Like any other business, this means that councils are short staffed and don’t have the wage rises they deserve. There’s usually one person doing the work of three. There won’t be any over time pay, and basic holiday allowance. Definitely not the perks of yesteryear.
All jobs in the council now have some kind of crossover with another as there just aren’t the people for everyone to do just one job. Like many of us a job title doesn’t mean much any more. Gone are the days when you’d be given a job and that’s all you’d do.
Most councils now don’t even provide their staff with tea and coffee as this has been deemed a waste of public purse funding. Imagine being told you had to pay for all your own drinks- you’d be appalled. Imagine having to buy your own milk and the stresses of fridge politics that would ensue. Council offices have hundreds of employees in them. You could be facing up to 20 bottles of milk in each fridge, each labelled and markered. Woe betide the person who uses the wrong one.
And a big misconception about council workers is that they don’t care about the public. This is a travesty. I’ve been lucky enough in my career to work alongside council staff from the care sector. I’ve heard their day to day struggles. A social worker once told me about going to carry out an assessment on someone, and being abused by their family in return. They had been receiving letters about the money they owed the council. This social worker wasn’t the one sending the letters, they were there to assess their mothers health to ensure she got the help she needed in her changed circumstances. But they were the one there, so they were the one getting the threats and abuse.
I’ve been told time and again of the struggles of trying to find placements for children. You’ve been given a budget and all the places with a free bed are too much. And the ones you can afford have already been taken by another council in a different borough who has more money to spend. I’ve sat next to one woman in a meeting where she came to tears talking about the difficulties they face every day in just finding a child a safe place to stay for the night.
They work through lunch. Work overtime. Drop everything and do anything needed. They ensure that when the call comes through about a child who’s parents have just been arrested and needs somewhere to stay for the night, they have somewhere to stay for the night. Or if a baby has been left alone after the mother committed suicide they have an emergency foster space for them.
So next time you go to moan about your local council just think about that. All the awful things in society you don’t want to deal with, they are. In short council workers- care.