Stoke-on-Trent City Council will be cutting over 100 call centre jobs in the next two years as it seeks to encourage uptake of digital services.
It is not the first local authority to cut jobs as it moves towards the government’s digital by default agenda – earlier this month, it was revealed jobs at Hull Council were at risk as it looked to save money via an IT upgrade.
Stoke-on-Trent wants to encourage its customers to engage via the Internet rather than the telephone.
It is currently in the process of improving its website to report issues that currently require a call centre so customers can use their smartphones or computers to access services instead.
According to local press, the Council’s digital by default approach will see the number of customer services workers reduce from 402 to 296.
It also claims an overhaul of back office services will see a further 235 job losses that are part of a plan to save £31m in 2015/16.
The local authority says it is hoping to save £2.07m by next year by reducing the number of people having to call or speak to staff in person.
“I can’t remember the last time I went to a bank. I can remember picking up the phone and doing my transactions that way. Every time I do so I’m asked about using their website instead,” explained Stoke-on-Trent chief operating officer (COO) Laura Rowley.
“Our proposal is to change customer service at the council in a similar way. More and more people can expect to be able to gain access to service through that route. Accessing services digitally is a very popular thing to be able to do,” Rowley claimed.