Voluntary redundancy on offer to staff at Northants County Council

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Northamptonshire County Council staff are being offered voluntary redundancy.

The authority is turning to its payroll bill to find part of the £50m-plus worth of savings needed over the next 12 months.

A total of 3,400 permanent staff are employed by the authority.

But staff in the fire service, children’s department, adult social workers and LGSS external service cannot apply to leave.

It also looks like there will be a vacancy freeze and there will be a review of agency staff use.

Leader of Northamptonshire County Council Cllr Matt Golby said: “As part of the council’s ongoing efforts to face up to its significant financial challenges we are currently exploring ways of which we can make further savings.

“As part of this managers are being asked to review whether vacancies need to be filled, review the use of agency staff and to understand what appetite there might be for voluntary redundancy.

“When we have this information we will be able to plan future service priorities in the light of the resources available to us.

“We hope these measures will be sufficient to meet our aims but if we need to make further difficult decisions we will not shy away from doing so.”

A finance report to be considered by the cabinet next week says that the ‘forecast monitoring  position has changed significantly from the prior period’ and ‘in-year spending reductions will have to take place outside of a process of reductions being identified by service departments.’

Cuts to services proposed so far include the stopping of funding to 21 libraries and a reduction of the winter gritting service.

The report states: “Officers have been working with cabinet to develop a workforce reduction plan.

“Since it is proving challenging to identify further sustainable spending reductions in third party spend the only available source of readily available spending reduction is the county council’s payroll cost.

“At this stage it is difficult to estimate the full-year impact of the programme.

“It is vital that it moves with pace so that at least a half-year effect can be gained, with the on-going full year impact contributing to the council’s challenging 2019/20 savings target.”

Lib Dem county councillor Chris Stanbra said the situation is ‘very sad and an indictment of the way the Conservatives have run the county council.’

He said: “I really feel for the staff.

“There will be some that want to take the voluntary redundancy but for many others they will not want to do it.

“They will then have a huge worry that if they don’t take voluntary redundancy they may then be forced to leave at a later date and possibly on less favourable financial terms.

“The work that needs to be done will then fall on less and less staff.

“People will have to be taking on extra responsibility and at this present time with the savings needed and work for unitary there is lots to be done.”

Staff will be given access to a ready reckoner to work out their potential redundancy package.

They can then apply for voluntary redundancy through an expression of interest form on the council’s internal web system.

Heads of service will be required to ‘encourage applications in lower risk services’.

All agency staff are recruited through LGSS Opus which is jointly run by Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire  and Suffolk county councils.

The county council cabinet will vote on whether to approve the redundancy measures at its next meeting at One Angel Square at 2pm on July 10.