Rhondda Cynon Taf redundancy packages 'too generous'

Image caption, RCT council says it has used voluntary redundancies to "manage the reduction of its head count"

The second biggest council in Wales has spent an average of £33,000 on each redundancy package to staff over the past three years, figures show.

Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) council has spent more than £9m on voluntary redundancy packages for 274 people.

Opposition councillors and employers' organisation the CBI have criticised the payouts.

The council said reducing its head count had contributed to securing over £40m worth of savings in recent years.

It spends about £360m a year but has to save £20m a year over the next three years.

The council is currently in negotiations with public sector unions about downgrading terms and conditions for more than 10,000 staff.

RCT councillor Mike Powell said the redundancy payments were over-generous in light of the budget cuts which the authority had to make.

"Why should public service workers, many of whom were middle managers on a sizeable wage and pension, be handed millions in 'compensatory payments' when Rhondda Cynon Taf council is asking its lower paid staff to accept new terms and conditions which will reduce their incomes? To me it seems so unfair. " he said.

"When and how did these posts become redundant?

"If the post is redundant then why are we paying a compensatory payment on top of the early access to pension and statutory redundancy payments?"

Director of CBI Wales David Rosser said the redundancy payments were "unrealistic".

"Council Tax payers of RCT will be rightly angry when they see their services cut in order to fund unrealistic redundancy payments.

"Public sector organisations need to strike a better balance between fairness for staff and fairness to service users."

RCT council said it used voluntary redundancies to "manage the reduction of its head count", a method it said was "used by all local authorities in meeting the challenge of the present financial climate".

Upfront cost

"By managing down our head count as part of the business re-engineering processes, the council has already secured over £40m worth of savings over recent years as part of its efficiency agenda," said the council.

"Inevitably there is an upfront cost to such a process, but the mechanism of voluntary redundancies or early retirement is only utilised if the financial business case backs it, and demonstrates the appropriate savings moving forward.

"Also the sums quoted need to be set in the context of the council's pay bill being some £270m per year.

"As part of the council's medium-term financial planning once a post is made redundant, it is not replaced and is deleted from the establishment, delivering the necessary savings needed to meet the challenge of the public spending cuts we face."

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