Target Operating Model

In August the Council approved a plan to restructure toward a Target Operating Model. This plan gives a high level overview of how the Council expects to achieve a £125m reduction in its annual spending by 2022/23 and what the organisation will look like to achieve that. It requires a dramatic change in the way services are delivered, focusing on commissioning services and using technology to automate them.

Understandably this causes a lot of anxiety for our members. It is a stated ambition to have a smaller and leaner organisation, with more flexible contracts and ways of working. There is a drive to use artificial intelligence and streamline the way services are delivered. While UNISON is not opposed to change that improves public services and makes our members' jobs easier and more efficient, we have significant concerns about this level of change and cuts.

Aberdeen City Council is already the lowest funded in Scotland per head, and has faced tens of millions in cuts already. Many of our budgets are protected by law, and many more are stretched to breaking point. Further cuts threatens our ability to deliver essential services to the people we serve, and puts jobs in the firing line. The Chief Executive has asked for a stronger partnership with trade unions, so we are going to be engaging with this fully to make sure that your voices are heard.

If you have a concern that you want to raise with us about the Target Operating Model, or want ask us a question about how we're approaching this, please get in touch. You can also volunteer to help us challenge management, speak out for our members, and keep the Council honest. It's your job, your voice, and your union.


Over the next five years Aberdeen City Council estimates that it will have to make hundreds of millions in savings. This means that in 2022/23 the Council will have £125m less in its budget, having a significant impact on the ability to delivery local services and protect jobs.

To manage this budget pressure the Council has proposed a "Target Operating Model" which will radically restructure the organisation. It will affect every employee as we move toward a different way of working. Management has promised to manage this in a way to improves service quality and is fair to staff, involving them throughout and committing at this stage to no compulsory redundancies.

UNISON is concerned that this could result in:

  • Jobs being lost across the organisation due to cuts and outsourcing or external commissioning;
  • Members being expected to do additional duties to pick up from those lost through VS/ER, causing stress and anxiety;
  • Decision-making which isn't open and transparent, resulting in mixed messages from the top;
  • A detrimental impact on outcomes for service users and the general public due to cuts.

This is why we will be engaging with the transformation programme, attending board meetings to scrutinise the changes, and feeding back to our members about what to expect. UNISON will be making our members' voices heard.

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