More than £31 million paid out by Edinburgh City Council to staff leaving the organisation in last three years

Voluntary redundancy severance deals have been reached with 760 staff since the 2016/17, including 64 colleagues since April 2019

Monday, 6th January 2020, 11:42 am
Updated Monday, 6th January 2020, 11:48 am
More than 31 million paid out by Edinburgh City Council to staff leaving the organisation in last three years. PIC: Alistair Linford

Council chiefs have paid out more than £31m to staff leaving the organisation since 2016 – amid calls for the authority to axe its no compulsory redundancy policy.

Voluntary redundancy severance deals have been reached with 760 staff since the 2016/17, including 64 colleagues since April 2019. The authority saw 545 employees take voluntary redundancy in 2016/17 – with severance payments worth £22.4m handed over before 102 employees left the organisation in the following year, receiving a combined £3.3m.

In the 2018/19 financial year, 49 workers left the council with £2.4m paid out – while in the current financial year since April 2019, 64 staff members have left through voluntary redundancy – leading to the council coughing up £3m in severance payments.

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Conservatives have called for a re-think on a policy of no compulsory redundancies as the authority is braced to make up to £40m of cuts from next year’s budget. The news comes after budget consultation sessions with colleagues saw them make “extensive suggestions for revenue generation” including an end to no compulsory redundancies, along with “more commercial approaches to business” and “radical transformation of working practices”.

Conservative group chairman, Cllr Jason Rust, said: “Redundancy packages need to be fair, but not overly generous and should be properly monitored and in accordance with the law and regulations. Each package should be justifiable and based on merit and there requires to be money saved from these voluntary agreements in the medium to long-term.

“Clearly where long-serving staff members leave that requires to be recognised, but the key is that council services need to be designed not simply for the convenience of the provider and its workforce but rather for the customer.

“It is right for consideration to now be given to ending the policy of no compulsory redundancies. Losing a job is a harrowing experience, but we have previously seen a consequence of the no compulsory redundancies policy meaning that well paid council staff stay on the pay-roll for months in a redeployment pool without a job to do.”

But the council insists that its position ruling out compulsory redundancies is set to continue.

A council spokesperson said: “The council’s administration has a clear political commitment to maintain our policy of no compulsory redundancies. We have been achieving significant cost savings, over a number of years, through a carefully managed approach to voluntary redundancies.

“The release of staff is only approved where there is a clear financial business case which generates a saving for the council.”

Green finance spokesperson, Cllr Gavin Corbett, said: “Over the last few years the council has lost hundreds of experienced staff, not because work needing done has reduced, but because of year on year cuts to the council’s budget by the Scottish Government.”