Labour criticises Northamptonshire County Council for spending more than £1m on redundancy payments last year
'I think it's a large amount to be paying out in redundancies and I think another way should have been found'
An opposition Labour councillor has criticised the old Northamptonshire County Council for spending more than £1 million on redundancy payments last year.
The now-defunct local authority paid out £1.1 million to 36 sacked employees in 2020/21 and £1.3 million to 30 members of staff the year before, according to government figures.
North and West Northamptonshire unitary councils replaced the old county, borough and district councils in April after the county council went bust in 2018.
West Northamptonshire Council said the sums were down to 'a significant reduction in the number of very senior staff' at the councils as part of the reorganisation.
West Northamptonshire Labour councillor and former county councillor, Danielle Stone, is worried about the loss of knowledgeable officers which can lead to a lack of morale and poor services.
"The whole cost of transition has been enormous in financial terms and in terms of the loss of staff with knowledge about the area and services and the drop in staff morale," she told this newspaper.
"So I think it's a large amount to be paying out in redundancies and I think another way should have been found."
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures were published as part of the government's research into ending 'excessively high' exit payments in the public sector.
Legislation passed last year – which capped payments at £95,000 – was revoked in February after the Government admitted it may have had 'unintended consequences' for the lowest paid workers.
The average cost of all exit packages in Northamptonshire last year was £31,765 – down from £43,783 in 2019-20 and higher than the national average.
West Northamptonshire Council cabinet member for HR and corporate services Mike Hallam said: “During the past few years we’ve been working our way through an extensive reorganisation of local government in the county.
“As part of that, we have been clear that the move from eight local authorities to two would mean a significant reduction in the number of very senior staff within our organisations, and these figures reflect that impact within Northamptonshire County Council.”
Councillor Stone said the transition to unitary authorities has cost £2.6 million a year since 2018 and it has not been smooth with many things still not working well together.
The Northampton Castle ward councillor believes the councils need to think about the skills, talents and knowledge officers have and ensuring that is not lost as their replacements may not have them
"What we are looking at now is a lot of vacancies the councils are struggling to fill and this seems to be a pattern," she said.
"They slim and trim and make people redundant and six or 12 months down the line they think we haven't got the staff and start recruiting again but there's something deeply flawed in that process."