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Yorkshire scheme: ‘communication is key’ to staff issues

29 November 2013

Diocese of Wakefield

Facelift goes on: Wakefield Cathedral launches the next phase of its redevelopment as volunteers dangle down the tower to give the trumpeting angel a makeover

Facelift goes on: Wakefield Cathedral launches the next phase of its redevelopment as volunteers dangle down the tower to gi...

THE reorganisation programme in Yorkshire and the Dales is not being driven by a financial target and a redundancy programme, the programme director, John Tuckett said on Wednesday; but staff concerns about jobs were "very real", and should not be underplayed.

"We are not being driven by financial targets, with redundancy programmes or anything like that. We are doing what is necessary to support enhanced mission and make the best use of money that we get from parishes as part of their giving," Mr Tuckett said.

The statement of need for the new Bishop of the diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales noted that there was "much concern amongst office staff as to their future within the new diocese and whether their jobs are safe". The Dioceses Commission's Scheme assumes a ten-per-cent reduction in staff over five years. The statement emphasises that this is "not an externally imposed target that must be met".

On the Appointed Day (20 April), when contracts of employment will shift to the new diocese, TUPE (transfer of undertakings for the protection of employees) will apply: all staff will remain on the same terms and conditions.

Nevertheless, the statement of need notes that "there will be some staff whose jobs will be formally at risk and will disappear," including the staff of the three diocesan bishops. "Every effort is being made to find suitable alternative employment, for those who wish it, within the new diocese."

Mr Tuckett said of staff concerns that he and his team were "allaying them as much as we can. . . In the process of this sort of transition, there are always concerns by staff: that is only natural, and I don't want to underplay it. . . It is a question of communicating, and one can never do enough of it."

Last week, the Director of Education for the dioceses of Bradford and Ripon & Leeds, the Revd Clive Sedgewick, who has announced his resignation, said that the reorganisation would be "very positive for the mission of the Church in education". There was "no way this is going to save money", but it was a "golden opportunity to rethink how the Church serves education and schools in the coming years".

No decision has yet been made about the shape of the new diocese's education team.

"I don't think it is good that, having known since July that we are still going forward, we have got no long-term leadership," Mr Sedgewick said. "It has perhaps not gone as smoothly or as rapidly as we might have hoped. Having said that, it is just so new that we want to get the best out of all aspects of this new board. We've got to take our time, and think and be strategic."

He suggested that there were "a lot of lessons that can be learned. I do think there are things which could be handled very differently, and perhaps in a commercial world there would be a lot more pain but more certainty . . . but I have confidence that the diocese and Church of England will do everything it can to look after its employees."

The Director of Education for the diocese of Wakefield, Canon Ian Wildey, said on Wednesday that his staff had not expressed any concerns about their positions, and that the Church's commitment to "effective comunications" was "clearly being observed".

Ian Fletcher, a Bradford representative on the General Synod, said last week that some people had been "slightly frustated" by the timescale, and that "people would rather know sooner" about changes that affected them.

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