Hundreds of thousands of pounds in redundancy payments

HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds in redundancy payments have been handed out by North Somerset Council in 12 months.

The number of redundancies has more than doubled since October 2007/08 to the same period in 2009/10, from 43 to 90, although it did go down slightly to 38 in 2008/09.

More than �770,000 has been paid out by North Somerset Council in associated payments in the past 12 months – but according to latest figures a number of Town Hall staff are still earning in excess of �50,000 per year.

The results of a Freedom of Information request, submitted by the Times, show that compensation paid to staff for losing their jobs has risen from �332,803 from October 1, 2008, to September 30, 2009, to �770,503 for the same period the following year.

North Somerset Council has been struggling over the past couple of years to plug a massive funding gap.

At the moment it has to find savings of �40million and the unitary authority says it is already prepared for reduced budgets.

Only last month a memo was sent to staff saying that natural turnover, redeployment and other voluntary means would be the preferred method of job-shedding, but that ‘compulsory redundancy’ may also be necessary.

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The maximum pay out over the past two years was �64,914 to someone in a management position.

But the council’s most recent statement of accounts show that in the period April 2009 to April 2010, more than 160 people employed by North Somerset Council were earning in excess of �50,000 a year, including pensions and other benefits.

A statement released by the council last month said: “It is inevitable, in the face of such significant funding loss, that we, along with all other councils, will not be able to afford to maintain every one of our many services at their current level.

“We acknowledge that as funding is reduced our workforce will also have to shrink.”

The council’s new contract, which has transferred a number of back-office support functions to the private sector, should deliver �13.6million in savings.

The purchase of new office premises at Clevedon will also allow the council to consolidate activities across two main office hubs, with the aim of saving money on costs associated with smaller satellite buildings.