More than £256,000 of taxpayer’ money has been spend on redundancy payouts at Central Bedfordshire Council, only for many of those laid off to be re-employed - some within months of leaving.
Figures dating from October 2010, to September 2014, reveal not only were staff given generous redundancy packages, some returned to jobs with the same department, on higher wages.
The statistics were passed to Central Bedfordshire’s Independent group by the late Dunstable councillor Julian Murray before he died in December.
The positions made redundant include roles in children’s services, libraries, housing and waste, with payouts amounting to £256,532.
Independent Group leader and Potton Ward Councillor Adam Zerny said the figures show one person was given redundancy of £24,593 and then taken back on a salary of £27,668 less than a month later. Another was paid redundancy of £21k and re-employed a month later, while two more staff members were paid redundancy in excess of £20k and taken back on within 6 months.
He said: “For the council to spend a quarter of a million pounds on redundancy only for many of those staff to be reemployed seems to be questionable management of public funds.”
Councillor Richard Wenham, Executive Member for Corporate Resources said, “Over the past five years the council has had to make £75m savings in response to financial pressures on the council. As part of making these savings we have had to review services and to make a number of posts redundant over that period.
“We do what we can to avoid making people redundant as our preference is to retain experienced staff and we always seek to redeploy people into vacant posts elsewhere in the council that suit their skills and experience. However, this relies on there being an appropriate vacancy to suit that person at the right time and unfortunately this does not always happen.”
He added: “If people are made redundant they are entitled to redundancy pay which they accept on certain conditions, which are set out in law and uniform across all councils. One of these conditions is that they must have a break in service of at least 4 weeks.
“Once that minimum period has ended people are fully entitled to apply for other posts that become available at the council and we are obliged to give fair and equal consideration to all applicants. We cannot let the fact that someone has previously received a redundancy payment from the council have any bearing on how we consider that person’s application for other jobs. It does sometimes happen that people who have been made redundant are successful in applying for other jobs at the council but that will always be a decision based on finding the best person to do the job.”