The �13m redundancy bill for Norfolk and Suffolk councils and police

Councils and police forces in Norfolk and Suffolk spent �13.2m making more than 1,200 workers redundant in just 12 months, it has been revealed.

As local authorities brace themselves for further cuts and savings next year, a Freedom Of Information request has revealed the bill for the 1,243 local authority and police staff who were made voluntarily or compulsorily redundant between April last year and March this year.

At Norfolk County Council, where the authority is in the midst of a �135m savings drive sparked by a consultation process called The Big Conversation, 645 members of staff were made redundant, which cost the authority just under �6.1m in payments.

West Norfolk Council made 19 people redundant and paid them a total of just under half a million pounds

None of the authorities gave the names of the recipients of the payments, but the largest payment by the county council was �42,352 to a member of school staff.

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The county council did not reveal which of the redundancies were compulsory and which were voluntary, but the tally for the year more than doubled the total redundancies made over the two previous years - where 301 workers lost their jobs.

Cliff Jordan, cabinet member for Efficiency, said: 'The county council has been going through, and continues to experience, one of the most difficult financial periods in its long history.

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'We made it clear through the Big Conversation that we would be listening hard to what residents felt our priorities should be, and that we would look to protect the most vulnerable in society, but we were clear that we would still have to make painful decisions due to reduced funding to local government because of the economic crisis nationally.

'With staffing such a significant proportion of our costs we unfortunately had no choice but to make some staff redundant in order to speed through organisational transformation needed to try and balance the council's books.'

Chancellor George Osborne last week said that austerity is here to stay until 2018 and warned local government it would have to find another 2pc of efficiency savings after 2014.

The local government settlement - the amount councils are given to spend on services - is due within weeks, but council bosses fear it will be gloomy news for their budgets.

Norfolk County Council bosses have launched another review of how the authority operates, predicting that �120m more savings may have to be found beyond 2014.

Mr Jordan said: 'We do, however, want to see essential services protected and, wherever possible, enhanced. But the economic messages are still stark - we can't rely on government grants to close the gaps in future.

'We need to continue to bear down on costs and re-balance our income so that in future we generate much more income for ourselves and as a result we will be more in control of our own destiny over the coming years.'

At Norwich City Council, 25 members of staff were made redundant in 2011/12 at a cost of just over �547,000.

A spokesman said: 'The redundancies were as a result of implementing the council's transformation programme which has resulted in a reduction in costs of �20m over the past four years, without directly impacting on frontline services.

'The redundancy payments were made in line with the council's staffing adjustment policy which was jointly agreed with the trade union, Unison.'

Of the 25 redundancies at City Hall, just three were compulsory. The largest payment was just over �45,000 for an employee in the citywide services department who took voluntary redundancy.

Norfolk police's redundancy bill for 2011/12 was a little under �170,000 after 17 members of staff were made redundant. In the previous two years, just under �400,000 was spent making 55 people redundant.

A police spokeswoman said: 'Norfolk Constabulary is currently working to achieve savings of �24.5m by 2015 as a result of the government spending cuts.

'We have a comprehensive plan in place to meet these savings which has included introducing a new policing model, increased collaboration with Suffolk Constabulary and reducing overhead costs.

'As part of this programme, we have also had to make significant reductions in our pay budget. In order to protect frontline services and continue to provide the best possible policing service for the people of Norfolk, we have targeted the reorganisation of back-office functions and this has inevitably led to some redundancies.

Our police staff are an invaluable part of our organisation, therefore redundancy is only considered as a last resort. We will always redeploy members of staff where possible into alternative roles within the constabulary.'

Twenty-two people were made redundant by Suffolk Constabulary at a cost of just over �424,000. A dozen were compulsory and the other 10 voluntary. The highest payment was �69,656 to an employee in support services.

Suffolk County Council spent just under �5m making 469 people redundant, not including schools staff. By comparison, in 2009/10 just 15 members of staff were made redundant.

West Norfolk Council made 19 people redundant and paid them a total of just under half a million pounds

North Norfolk District Council paid a little over �130,000 to eight people who lost their jobs

Breckland Council about �66,000 after eight people were made to take compulsory redundancy.

Waveney District Council paid just over �74,000 to 13 members of staff, through a mix of compulsory and voluntary redundancy,

Broadland District Council made just one worker redundant and refused to say how much they had received, saying it could lead to them being identified, so the council would be in breach of data protection.

South Norfolk Council refused to answer the Freedom Of Information Request for similar reasons, saying that to do so would contravene data protection.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council, which is facing a �10m budget shortfall and must find �3.2m of savings in each of the next three years recently launched a voluntary redundancy drive for next year.

Fifty-six staff have asked to go, while current managing director Richard Packham, who has 37 years' experience in local government, is expected to leave his post with a �136,000 pay-off.

In 2011/12 16 members of staff at the borough council took redundancy or were made redundant, at a cost of just over �257,000.

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