Southend Council redundancy packages average £1m per year

Southend has paid out almost £3million in redundancy settlements in the last three years, it has been revealed.

Figures released in a Freedom of Information request show the council is facing an annual £1million burden as Government cuts force councils to cut staffing levels to the bone.

Over the last three years the council has paid out £2,837,854 in redundancy, settlement fees, including pension top-ups.

The council is also currently undergoing a restructuring process, with more posts set to go this year, meaning the trend is only set to continue.

Figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government this week show 44 exit packages, totalling £1.3 million were awarded by Southend Council in 2020-21.

There were 26 staff laid off the previous year, at a cost of £1.1 million.

The council says it is fighting an uphill battle to cope with huge cuts in Government revenue. The borough’s main grant has reduced by 90 per cent from £64m in 2011, to just over £6m now.

Paul Collins, councillor responsible for corporate services and performance delivery, said: “Over the past ten years, local councils have faced a perfect storm of significantly reduced central Government funding combined with increased pressure and demand for services.

“In Southend, our central grant has been cut by 90 per cent from £64m in 2011 to £6m now.”

Cllr Collins added: “The council continues to face significant financial pressures whilst at the same time having to prioritise services to ensure that the town makes a full recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

“This means that savings have to be found and regrettably some of these will be in staffing budgets as we continue to redesign and streamline services. Over the years the council has avoided wholesale redundancies, but unfortunately it is sometimes unavoidable for large organisations.

“However, we work hard with unions and affected staff to ensure that the effects of changes are mitigated as far as possible through the use of redeployment and voluntary severance packages, for example.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter