Suffolk County Council spends £31m on exit packages - but Cambridgeshire only £9m
- Credit: Archant
Staff redundancies at Suffolk County Council (SCC) have cost more than £30 million over the past five years with nearly two dozen senior staff benefiting from six-figure payouts.
The authority laid off nearly 2,000 staff between 2010 and 2015 in a bid to reduce its wage bill amid tightening budgets. Last year, the council reduced its overall budget spend by £38 million. A total of £31 million was spent during the five years to cover payments to departing staff members; including 26 that cost more than £100,000 each.
Deputy leader councillor Christopher Hudson said the scale of these payments was concerning.
'As a custodian of the public purse, we must keep exit packages under the strictest review to safeguard taxpayers' money,' he added.
A council spokesman explained that every redundancy had been justified by the associated savings and had been scrutinised by officers.
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The highest individual exit package went to former chief executive Andrea Hill, who received a £218,592 'end of employment payment' in 2011/12 – equivalent to a year's salary. Ms Hill's pay had itself attracted widespread criticism at the time.
Her successor, Deborah Cadman's salary was a more modest £155,000, which remained unchanged until this month when it was proposed she receives a raise of just under eight per cent to £170,000.
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Overall there has been a small increase in the number of senior staff at County Hall earning six-figure salaries. According to annual reports, there were eight people earning more than £100,000 in 2010/11, rising to 11 in 2014/15.
The council said one of the six-figure payments in 2014/15 related to a staff member who was made redundant and included the combined cost of their salary and exit package. A further four payments were said to relate to public health staff who transferred to the council from the NHS in April 2013.
The council has also made use of 'interim' and 'off payroll' positions in senior roles, despite concerns raised about these practices.
A council spokesman said off-payroll positions were used 'where this is the most appropriate or necessary basis to engage people'.
Cambridgeshire County Council serves around 600,000 people and Norfolk 900,000, yet the amount of money it spent on exit packages is much smaller than its counterparts.
It handed out £7.5m in exit packages in the five years up to 2014/15, 13 of which were over £60,000 and two of which went into six figures, both in 2013/14.
Those earning over £80,000 rose from 18 in 2010/11 to 25 in 2014/15, but those on £100,000-plus has stayed relatively stable from seven to eight.
In 2011 chief executive Mark Lloyd actually took a 5pc salary reduction which saw his wage fall from £195,966 to £188,617.
In 2014/15 the salary rose back to £190,000, but the role was still one of the few top jobs in local authority where pay was cut during the five years we have studied.