Staffing at Transport for London

MQT on 2019-03-21
Session date: 
March 21, 2019
Question By: 
Florence Eshalomi
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Transport for London will reduce their back and middle office costs by 30 per cent over the next three years at the same time as delivering a better service. What estimate has TfL made on the likely reduction in headcount?


Staffing at Transport for London

Staffing at Transport for London

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Chairman.  I am committed to providing a safe, reliable and affordable transport service for all Londoners while placing TfL’s finances on a sustainable footing for the long term.  TfL is working to deliver an operating surplus by 2022.  To do so, it is managing significant challenges.  This includes an average £700 million annual reduction in Government funding ‑ we have seen the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association union campaigning on this at City Hall today and I was pleased, like you, to meet them this morning ‑ a subdued economy affecting its revenues, and the delay to the opening of the Elizabeth line.  TfL has therefore taken a range of actions to reduce operating costs and to secure other sources of revenue.  This includes utilising TfL’s property estate and developing its consultancy services in order to protect frontline transport services.


At this stage is not possible to say what will be required to achieve the 30% target in middle‑ and back‑office functions over three years.  Any proposals directly affecting staff will be subject to consultation with staff and trade unions and could involve both staff and non‑staff costs.  I understand TfL will seek to reduce the impact on staff through reductions in non‑permanent labour and through not filling existing vacancies.


Since I became Mayor, TfL has been delivering efficiency savings, having already redesigned 30 business areas.  This has had a significant impact on reducing costs.  We have reduced recurring annual savings of £111 million.  TfL is on track to exceed its planned savings targets for this financial year [2018/19].


A tangible example of these recent efficiencies has been the creation of a new business services function, which has brought together operational activity that was previously within human resources and finance.  By bringing these teams together, there will be further opportunities to streamline common processes and look for other ways to deliver a better service at a reduced cost.


Florence Eshalomi AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  Again, just to be clear, we do know that the main culprit and the reason TfL is in this position is because we do not have that central grant from the Government.


In your role as Chair of TfL, Mr Mayor, I am worried about some of the issues in terms of these job cuts.  The majority of the job losses that have already happened are from lower grades and we have not seen a reduction in the number of directors.  In terms of the headcount from 2015 to 2017, there was a 30% reduction in senior management.  How much of that reduction over the next three years, Mr Mayor, will be in senior staff?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Are you projecting forward?


Florence Eshalomi AM:  Yes, going forward.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Before we get to that stage, there will be lots of work done to plan, to design and then to consult not just with the executive team but also with the trade unions.  I cannot give you those figures at this stage and nor could TfL because that work has not been done to break down how many will be senior staff, how many will be middle or lower staff and how many will be non‑staff as well in relation to the savings to be made.  That part of the work will take place during the course of the business plan.


Florence Eshalomi AM:  That is great.  Again, I know that you have been very keen in terms of making sure TfL reduces the day‑to‑day bill on consultants, but as we all know consultants do not appear in TfL’s figures.  Can we make sure that we look at how we can address that going forward?


Lastly, a number of these roles that may be cut are back‑office functions including engineering, maintenance, health and safety, and delivery of major projects.  They may not seem like frontline cuts, but they play such a key service.  How are we going to ensure that if those cuts do go forward, it will not adversely impact the day‑to‑day running and provision of services across London?  Safety has to be paramount.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes.  That is a key point you raise.  We are going to make sure we keep frontline staff, but you are right.  Back‑office staff have a huge role to make the front‑office staff do their work.  That is why I said it would be unwise for me to give a figure in relation to staff cuts and senior staff cuts as well because that design work has to take place.  The key thing is to make sure that TfL continues to be reliable, safe and also affordable.  Safety is the most important out of those three issues.  As part of the design work but before we get to proposals, they will be looking at those sorts of issues, but safety is of paramount concern.  The consultation that we now do is far superior than done before.


I have been criticised by the Conservatives for spending time talking to trade unions and the facilities and time given, but TfL is undertaking the biggest reorganisation in its history.  If we do not talk to our staff and consult with them and those who represent the staff, do not be surprised if that leads to concern, frustration and anxiety from those hardworking staff.  I do not apologise for the facilities and time.  I do not apologise for meeting trade union leaders.  I do not apologise for consulting those who work in TfL.


Florence Eshalomi AM:  Great.  Thank you, Mr Mayor.