Voluntary redundancies for Bromsgrove and Redditch council staff

By Ian Dipple Friday 18 January 2013 Updated: 23/01 09:42

BROMSGROVE District Council workers are being offered voluntary redundancy by bosses battling to deal with the impact of Government funding cuts.

Staff have also been asked to consider part retirement and reduced hours to help plug a blackhole of £200,000 in the council's books for the next financial year. Workers were briefed by senior management last week and have until February 1 to respond. It is hoped enough people come forward so forced job losses can be avoided.

Bromsgrove District Council leader Coun Roger Hollingworth said: "We don’t want to go down the compulsory redundancy route so have invited staff to request voluntary redundancy in a bid to meet the challenging savings target we have.

"But they are fully aware that the requests may be turned down if there is a detrimental impact on our service provision, we are unable to make further savings from the post or it is too costly."

He said providing services for customers was the council's priority and added he anticipated further savings through transformation and shared services.

Managers and staff have also been asked to identify waste within their departments and for suggestions as to how money could be saved.

Only essential spending on measures which will save money or is necessary to provide a service to residents is being sanctioned.

The moves are a result of the Government's austerity drive which saw Bromsgrove District Council's Government funding settlement leave a shortfall of £1million.

The council said a package put together for this year's budget, including shared services and transformation, had identified around £800,000 worth of savings so far.

The gap was around £170,000, but additional cuts of £30,000, recently announced by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles, had seen the council faced with the £200,000 gap.

Since 2009, the transformation and shared services have delivered just under £2million in savings across Bromsgrove and Redditch councils through having a joint chief executive and management team. That resulted in 26 voluntary and 17 compulsory redundancies across both authorities.

Bosses have been criticised though for receiving pay rises to take into account extra workload, but a council spokeswoman said salaries had not been doubled and costs associated with pensions and National Insurance contributions had also been saved.

Coun Hollingworth said: "I take exception to the accusations of ‘fat cat’ salaries as the costs are less per council than each authority having its own single officer.

"This council had the hindsight to embark on these innovative project five years ago and although we continue to be bombarded with external challenges, any measures we take will be done so with the customer at the heart," he added.

This year's budget will be put before full council on February 20.

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