Councils will be banned from four-day working week trials under new government plans as they are ‘not value for taxpayers’ money’

  • Councils could face financial consequences for pursuing the strategy in future 

Ministers will today order councils to stop four-day working week trials – and ban any new such ‘experiments’ – following a backlash.

New guidance from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) will say that the changes to working practices are not value for taxpayers’ money.

It will include possible financial consequences for councils that pursue the strategy in future in spite of the guidance.

It comes after the first town hall to let staff enjoy a four-day week came under pressure to scrap the scheme after ministers said it provided a worse service for residents.

South Cambridgeshire District Council was told it risks a costly legal challenge as it failed to seek people’s views before bringing in the radical change to working practices.

South Cambridgeshire District Council (pictured) was told it risks a costly legal challenge as it failed to seek people’s views before bringing in the radical change to working practices

The guidance was issued after Local Government minister Lee Rowley wrote a letter to the council calling on it to ‘end your experiment immediately’ saying he had concerns about the ‘value for money’ for local taxpayers.

The new rules will say that local authorities should halt four-day week trials immediately and rule out adopting the practice in future to ensure taxpayers’ money is well spent.

The guidance sets out that removing 20 per cent of a local authority’s potential capacity does not offer value for money for residents.

DLUHC is also exploring measures to ensure the sector is clear this should not be pursued in future, it said.

The guidance will say: ‘Councils which are undertaking four-day working week activities should cease immediately and others should not seek to pursue in any format.

Local Government minister Lee Rowley wrote a letter to the council calling on it to end four-day week experiment

Local Government minister Lee Rowley wrote a letter to the council calling on it to end four-day week experiment

‘Value for local taxpayers is paramount and no further focus should be given by local authorities on this matter.

‘The department is also exploring other measures to ensure that the sector is clear that this working practice should not be pursued.’

Mr Rowley said: ‘Our new guidance makes clear that this ideological experiment with taxpayers’ money must end.

‘Every decision we make must put the best interests of taxpayers first and reducing a fifth of a council’s capacity flies in the face of common sense.

‘Those councils that disregard this guidance are now on notice that the Government will take all necessary steps to end this practice for good.’

In July, DLUHC launched the new Office for Local Government (Oflog) to increase councils’ accountability for their performance.