Stevenage council �1m redundancy spend in efficiency drive

Redundancies have cost Stevenage Borough Council nearly �1m in the last two years as the authority tries to save �3.5m over four years.

Figures released by the authority in response to a freedom of information request show �672,536 was spent making 29 staff – 22 women and seven men – compulsorily redundant between April 2010 and November last year.

A further �213,423 was spent removing the chief executive, resources director and five other posts at Stevenage Homes in December when the arms-length council housing management company was brought back under direct council control.

Stevenage UNISON union member Patrick Newman who made the FOI request to the authority regarding the 29 redundant staff members, said it was an example of the damage austerity measures inflict on public services and communities.

“But at the same time it also illustrates the futility of expecting cuts to close the deficit. Assuming an average salary of �30,000 each, the government will now lose a total of �217,500 a year in income tax and national insurance.

“Add to this the benefits that these redundant people probably receive and the public sector cost of these benefits is over �1.1m.

‘‘And that does not include putting a value on the loss of direct and indirect services to the people of Stevenage who use and depend on council services.”

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Ann Webb, executive member for housing at the authority, said the move to bring housing back in-house will save �860,000 a year.

“The council has taken on a housing debt from central Government of �200m which must be repaid over the next thirty years.

‘‘For this reason, it’s vital that we make all decisions about the management of housing with the future in mind, so we can ensure that our budgets are balanced and we can continue to maintain and improve homes and services for our tenants.

“The move, made in consultation with our tenants and leaseholders, has put us in a strong position to achieve this and make greater savings in the longer term.”