N. Ireland Politics

Civil Service voluntary redundancy: August deadline set for scheme

Parliament Buildings at Stormont
Image caption More than 7,000 civil servants expressed interest in the voluntary redundancy scheme

The head of the Northern Ireland civil service has set an August deadline for deciding whether the first tranche of voluntary redundancies will go ahead.

The aim of the redundancy scheme is to cut around 3,000 civil service jobs.

The first 1,200 civil servants are due to leave on 30 September.

But that is now uncertain due to the Stormont Executive's continuing disagreement on welfare reform and the budget.

Dr Malcolm McKibben told a Stormont committee on Wednesday that "we can't go past the end of August in terms of confirming if they're leaving or not.

"People clearly have plans made if they are allowed to exit," he said.

The voluntary redundancy scheme was part of the Stormont House Agreement. It was struck between the Executive parties and the British and Irish governments in December.

The scheme allowed the Executive to borrow up to £700m to fund 20,000 redundancies across the wider public sector.

But with the welfare reform part of the agreement collapsing it is doubtful if the redundancy scheme can proceed as planned.

More than 7,000 civil servants expressed interest in the scheme and 1,200 of those have been told they can leave, depending on funding.

If the Executive is not allowed to borrow the money it would have to pay for the scheme by making cuts to day-to-day departmental spending.

Dr McKibben raised the prospect that there could be negotiations with the Treasury to allow the scheme to proceed as planned, even if the rest of the Stormont House Agreement is not implemented.

"If the welfare reform issue isn't sorted out in the near future clearly we're going to have to engage with the Treasury to see if access to this money can be maintained.

"Whether or not they will allow that to be pulled out of the Stormont House Agreement I don't know."

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