Redundancy costs at Essex County Council reach £8.5m

Essex County Council have spent over �8.5m on redundancies in 2017/18. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Essex County Council have spent over �8.5m on redundancies in 2017/18. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR - Credit: Archant

Essex County Council has spent more than £8.5million on exit packages for staff in just one year, new figures reveal.

The statistics released by the county council showed that 13 people left with pay-offs of between £100,000 and £200,000, while a further seven cost between £80,000 and £100,000.

A council spokesman said it had been “necessary to streamline the organisation following staff feedback” and payments were a legal requirement.

The news comes as the authority looks to increase its share of council tax by around 4pc – adding £48 to the average bill from April. It is also looking at closing 25 libraries and cutting funding to a further 19.

Plans to reduce costs at the council have been known for years, as cuts to local authorities from central government continue.

However, the number of staff made redundant and the amount paid to those staff has been a surprise to many, including councillor Mike Mackrory, leader of the Liberal Democrat group.

Mr Mackrory said: “I was very surprised to hear that so much money had be spent on redundancies.

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“I think that some people have come out of it better than others. Some senior workers will see that redundancy figure and, knowing that they have the skills and the role to get another job, will take it.

“I’m not surprised that there have been redundancies but I am surprised that some were paid such a large amount to leave.”

In total, 277 Essex County Council employees received an exit package in 2017/18, costing £8.6m.

That was a huge rise from the previous year, which saw 83 packages amounting to just under £2m. Just under 50% of the redundancies were compulsory.

Around £7.7m was spent on the exit packages in 2017/18 and a further £900,000 went on “other termination benefits”.

The spokesman for Essex County Council stressed that the figures and redundancies “need to be seen in context”.

“This was necessary to streamline the organisation, following feedback from staff and partners, and how Essex County Council needs to be structured in order to meet future challenges,” he said.

“The exit payments are in the main redundancy and pension strain payments that we are legally required to make.”

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