Councils Splash out on Redundancies despite Warnings on Budgets; TORIES DON'T UNDERSTAND 'THE COMPARATIVE COSTS'

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 10, 2013 | Go to article overview

Councils Splash out on Redundancies despite Warnings on Budgets; TORIES DON'T UNDERSTAND 'THE COMPARATIVE COSTS'


Byline: GRAHAM HENRY Senedd Correspondent graham.henry@walesonline.co.uk

CASH-STRAPPED councils across Wales have shelled out more than PS31m in payouts for voluntary redundancies over the past three years - despite dire warnings over shrinking budgets.

Figures obtained by the Welsh Conservatives through Freedom of Information requests found that Wales' 22 councils paid out the sums, despite council leaders suggesting they were seeking to change Big Lottery Fund rules to allow lottery money to go towards local services.

The party's leader Andrew RT Davies claimed that the figure - which represents payouts of 18 of 22 councils - represents the "tip of the iceberg" and labelled the sums "lavish and unnecessary".

But the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) defended the payments, pointing to statutory duties placed on councils to make them - and saying they amounted to only 0.2% of revenue expenditure and were in any case being forced due to UK-imposed austerity measures.

Blaenau Gwent had the highest average payout at PS34,661 over a three-year financial year period, while Cardiff council paid four people a voluntary severance of between PS100,000 and PS150,000 over the 2011/2012 period.

Cardiff, Wales' largest local authority, paid out PS8.6m over the past three financial years - including this year to date - to 546 members of staff.

One of the smallest councils, Merthyr Tydfil, paid out PS2.3m in voluntary redundancies while Caerphilly reported no voluntary redundancies at all.

Tory leader Mr Davies, said: "These findings are quite remarkable, particularly in the context of recent complaints that councils may have to go cap in hand for lottery funding because money is so tight.

"Meanwhile, we find that across Wales local authorities have managed to spend more than PS31m funding golden handshakes for departing staff.

"It's also hard to explain the wide variation between local councils; Caerphilly have offered no voluntary redundancies whatsoever, while neighbouring Merthyr have racked up PS2.3m to pay off 153 council staff in a borough of just 55,000 people."

Mr Davies also hit out at the biggest-spending council, Cardiff, saying the payouts happened when libraries and leisure centres were closed, public toilets shut and services including the riding school targeted for budget cuts. "Now we find that Cardiff Council have spent PS8. …

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Councils Splash out on Redundancies despite Warnings on Budgets; TORIES DON'T UNDERSTAND 'THE COMPARATIVE COSTS'
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