Questions over how Northants County Council can afford to offer voluntary redundancy to staff

The county council offices in Northampton
The county council offices in Northampton

A trade union official who represents many workers at Northamptonshire County Council has questioned how the financially constrained authority can afford to offer voluntary redundancies.

3,000 staff at the county council have been asked to consider leaving their jobs in return for a redundancy payment as the authority needs to make more than £50m of savings this year.

They have until next Monday (July 16) to express an interest.

Some key roles including fire and rescue staff, social workers and staff who work across a number of councils are not eligible.

GMB trade union officer Rachelle Wilkins has questioned where the redundancy cash will come from.

She said: “It just does not add up.

“I am concerned that they are offering this at a time when they  can’t afford a two per cent pay rise.”

The union official said the offer had ‘come out of the blue’ to staff and to the unions.

She said: “Staff are not very happy about it.

“Obviously there are some that have volunteered.

“I’m led to believe that some have already been turned down because they are not needed.

“There was an atrium address at One Angel Square five days before where the commissioner spoke to the staff but voluntary redundancy was not mentioned and then out of the blue 3,000 people receive an email.”

A spokesman for the county council said that the expressions of interest were being looked at and it would be considered as to whether voluntary redundancy would financially stack up.

Northamptonshire County Council is currently in the worst financial situation of any local authority in the country.

Finance chief Mark McLaughlin, who last week resigned from his job, has already stated that budget plans are behind and there could be another section 114 notice issued this year.

A 114 notice is a warning that a council may not be able to balance its books.

Two commissioners appointed by central government, Tony McArdle and Brian Roberts, are overseeing the council.

As yet they have not made any public statements about the financial position at NCC.