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Local Authorities: Four-day Week

Volume 744: debated on Monday 22 January 2024

8. What assessment he has made of the potential merits of a four-day working week for local authority employees. (901070)

The Government have been crystal clear that we do not support any attempt from local authorities to implement part-time work for full-time pay. Removing capacity to deliver services to residents is not acceptable. The Government have taken steps to deter councils from operating such practices, and we will take further steps if necessary.

The Minister only earlier extolled the virtues of devolution. In fact, page 29 of the 2019 Tory manifesto said that the

“ambition is for full devolution across England, building on the successful devolution of powers to city region mayors”

and others. How does that laudable aim fit with the Government’s shocking attempts, through threats and bullying tactics, to strangle the ability of local councils such as South Cambridgeshire District Council to trial a four-day week and other money-saving initiatives?

If the hon. Gentleman can construct an argument for hard-working families across the country —many of whom will be working two or three jobs to keep a roof over their heads—that five days’ pay and benefits is commensurate with four days’ work a week, I would be interested in hearing it. I invite him in all seriousness to consider the impact on the public’s perception of the public sector if it is given out that we can afford to work four days a week but still expect and receive five days’ pay.