Somerset Council to approve 49 redundancies as part of £40m savings plan

By Laura Linham

15th May 2024 | Local News

County Hall in Taunton (Photo: LDRS)
County Hall in Taunton (Photo: LDRS)

Somerset Council is set to make significant staff reductions as part of a cost-cutting measure expected to save over £40 million annually.

Facing what has been described as a financial emergency, the council will discuss approving 49 voluntary redundancies in an upcoming meeting.

These planned redundancies are the first wave in a broader strategy to decrease the council's operational costs.

This comes in response to escalating expenses, particularly in areas like social care, which have pushed many local authorities across the UK into economic distress.

The council's 2024/25 budget reflects a strategic vision aimed at creating a leaner, more financially sustainable local government.

As part of this strategy, the council has agreed to reduce its workforce by approximately 25%, including staff and senior management positions.

The voluntary redundancy scheme concluded recently with 201 applications accepted, leading to an annual savings of around £8 million for the council.

The one-off cost of these redundancies totals £12.842 million but is expected to be recouped within less than two years through savings on the annual pay bill. The funds for these redundancies will come from capital funds, as sanctioned by the government, allowing immediate financial relief once the posts are eliminated.

The most significant decisions will be made at the Full Council meeting on 22 May, where councillors will vote on whether to approve redundancy for 49 posts.

These are positions where the associated costs exceed £100,000, including pension strain payments. It is stressed that all affected staff will receive only what they are contractually entitled to.

Cllr Bill Revans, Leader of Somerset Council, expressed the gravity of the situation. "We had to make many difficult and heartbreaking decisions to set our budget this year, and that included plans for a top-to-bottom restructure of our council. We have always been clear about our position and it is essential that we make the tough choices to ensure our Council is financially viable. The financial cost is in line with the legal terms and conditions of the post holders, no more, no less," he stated.

"This is the first step and we know there will be further changes and reductions in staff numbers coming through over the next 12 months as we look to find over £40m of savings from our pay bill," Cllr Revans added.

     

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