DORSET County Council has come under fire for ‘staggering’ pay-offs to staff leaving the authority.
The council’s own accounts show that in 2010-11 it shelled out a total of £1.03million on seven ‘exit packages’ with the total cost of the packages ranging from £100,000 to £242,000 – but they refuse to say who got the cash.
The payments come at a time when the council is aiming to save around £39million over three years and shed 500 jobs as local Government face unprecedented cuts in funding.
However, the council insists reports that it had spent £1.03million on of 'pay-offs' to top executives was misleading.
A spokesman for the authority said the seven payments all related to staff who took voluntary redundancy in the 2011/12 financial year and were paid a total of £333,107, with individual payments ranging from £35,000 to £73,000.
He said a further £455,733 was paid by the council into the Pension Fund to cover the 'pensions strain' caused by the fact the individuals were all over 55-years-old.
Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers' Alliance hit out at the pay offs.
He said: “The council has forked out a staggering sum of money on redundancy pay outs at a time when it has to find savings.
“Overly generous pay offs cost taxpayers dearly and run the danger of undermining any benefits of making staff redundant.
“In many cases, the terms and conditions provided to senior staff at councils such as Dorset are terrible value for taxpayers' money.
“Axing these gold plated deals must be a priority when replacing staff."
The council did not reveal which posts the payments related to. The spokesman said: “The total one-off cost was £818,840.
“The ongoing savings arising from these redundancies amounted to £471,000 a year.
“No additional cost falls on the taxpayer as Dorset's policy is only to allow voluntary redundancy where the 'pay-back' from the ensuing savings is less than two years.
“In this instance the average payback was 21 months.”
He added: “All councils are having to make substantial savings as a result of cuts in public spending.
“Dorset has made savings of £43 million in the last two years and shed more than 500 full time equivalent posts.
“Voluntary redundancy is just one of a number of tools available to councils to enable the necessary re-structuring of services.”
DORSET branch secretary for the GMB Union Gary Pattison said he believed the figures reflected an 'injustice' in the way redundancies were handled by the authority.
He said a number of senior managers took voluntary redundancy when the pay off they received used a redundancy multiplier of two-and-a-half times the national minimum.
The redundancy multiplier has now been reduced to 1.75 and that was the package that many lower paid staff were left with and some of them were compulsory redundancies.
Mr Pattison said: “We had senior managers who were well aware there was a risk of cutting the multiplier going ahead a taking voluntary redundancy while lower level staff when out with 1.75.“There is a sort of imbalance.”
Dorset branch secretary for Unison Pamela Jefferies said she will be seeking more details from the council on what the payments relate to and their long term impact.
She said: “It is a lot of money of money but if it's been done to save money as well.
“From a staff point of view it's probably better to see these high figure posts and keep more front line posts for people that work hands on delivering services.”