Delivering the Mayor's manifesto [6]

Session date: 
February 7, 2019
Question By: 
Navin Shah
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London) & Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner, Transport for London)

Question

Navin Shah AM:  With a large number of commuters, I too was stuck at 8.30am this morning at Harrow on the Hill Station.  I have personally made representations to both of you and you both have kindly not only explained the reason for the signals failure but also apologised for the failure itself.  I want to leave it at that.

 

What I want to move on to swiftly now is a question about the agency staff.  Mr Mayor, in your manifesto pledge you stated that you would halve the £300 million cost of consultants and agency staff to £190.5 million.  As of June 2018 you had cut £176 million from the agency staff budget.  Has this welcome and significant reduction had an effect on TfL’s ability to deliver its services, which is critical?

 

Answer

Delivering the Mayor's manifesto [6]

Delivering the Mayor's manifesto [6]

Answered By: 
Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London) & Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner, Transport for London)

Sadiq Khan (Chair, Transport for London):  I hope not, but it is more for the Commissioner to give you that reassurance.  I accept there is sometimes a need for non-permanent labour and agency staff.  Sometimes it can be good for a specific project happening.  In fact here in City Hall we often use non-permanent labour for bespoke pieces of work.

 

The task I gave the Commissioner was that I am unhappy with our overuse of them before I became Mayor and we should be investing in permanent staff to give them the skills.  We will retain talent and we will see them progress as well rather than paying somebody who comes and goes or paying agency staff for a long period of time when they clearly should be permanent staff.  We have reduced it hugely.

 

We also now have processes in place to avoid a department overusing agency staff.  I am reassured that we are making progress, but it is for the Commissioner to confirm to you that there has been no reduction in the quality of service that TfL can provide.

 

Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner of Transport for London):  Thank you for the question and the answer is, no, there has not been and I would not allow there to be.  The Mayor is quite right that it does give a really great opportunity to develop our own talent and our own people within the organisation.  As recently as today one of the national newspapers was reporting that we are on track with a campaign to recruit 130 new apprentices across the organisation.  It is that kind of young talent.

 

By the way, I have absolutely made a stipulation that that intake of apprentices will totally and absolutely represent the diversity of London’s population in its entirety.  We still have, particularly in the engineering fields, have too few women coming into our organisation workforce.  Where we do have young talented women, we are making a massive difference to the delivery within the individual areas where there is proper representation.  This is a real quest to continue to transform this over time.

 

As the Mayor said, there will be some specialist positions.  I do not know.  We talked about signalling earlier on where we have a very specialist signalling resource that we need for a defined period of time.  In those cases it may be appropriate to have an agency member of staff for a short period of time, but that has to be the exception rather than the rule.  I am very confident that the controls that I put in place to ensure senior signoff within the organisation will apply those controls properly.

 

Navin Shah AM:  That is extremely reassuring for Londoners who expect and demand good quality of services from TfL.

 

Moving on to consultants, in 2015/16 the consultants bill was £117 million and then in 2016/17 it went down to £107 million.  Can you update me on recent progress you made on the consultant cost side of things?  We do not have the latest figures.

 

Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner of Transport for London):  I can share that with you.  I do not have that immediately to hand.  It may be somewhere in the bowels of my pack.  I do not have it immediately to hand, but I can certainly share that with you.  Suffice it to say we are continuing to make progress on this because, in an organisation that is bearing down on costs and duplication and ensuring that we only do things in one part of the organisation where historically prior to the Mayor being elected we did it in multiple parts of the organisation, it is part of the overall journey there.  I am very happy to share the specific details, Chairman, after the meeting.

 

Navin Shah AM:  Thank you.  I have a very last question very quickly.  The number of TfL staff with a total remuneration of £100,000 or more was 402 in 2015/16, went up to 515 in 2016/17 and went up again to 564 in 2017/18.  How do you justify this 40% increase?  Do you have any plans to bring down the numbers in the cost and do you have any target figure?

 

Sadiq Khan (Chair, Transport for London):  I do not recognise those figures.  What I do know is that I have been quite clear to the Commissioner that we have to freeze the salaries of the top team and that that has happened.  I have also been quite clear that we have to reduce the numbers of staff with a base salary of more than £100,000 - on the numbers I have, that has gone down - but also the number of senior managers I have asked to be reduced as well.  On the numbers I have, that has been done.

 

I am not sure if your numbers include the Crossrail Ltd team.  We are not responsible for their remuneration packages.  In fact, even though we objected to them, the previous Chair still chose to increase their packages.  I am happy to look at your figures.  I am not sure if the Commissioner can help.

 

Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner of Transport for London):  Perhaps I can help a little bit with the figures ‑‑

 

Navin Shah AM:  Chairman, I do not have time.  What would I will, to be helpful, is that I have these figures from the annual report and statement of accounts for 2016/17 and that is very clear.  If you can again drop us a line to give clarity on the figures from what I have stated against what you might have just to justify that it is not Crossrail figures with ‑‑

 

Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner of Transport for London):  It is 7% lower than in 2015/16 and the number of senior managers in the organisation has reduced by 13%.  Also, as the Mayor rightly said, there has been a total freeze on pay increases for the senior management team across the organisation.  The figures are not the correct ones but I will give you the correct ones, yes.