ALMOST £10 million has been paid out to former employees of Bolton Council over the past five years, new figures have revealed.
The Bolton News has obtained data which shows the authority has spent £9,735,000 to 1,095 staff who left the council under a voluntary severance or redundancy agreement since 2008 — an average of £8,890 each.
The most payouts were handed out between April, 2011 and March, 2012, when £4.92 million was paid out.
Bolton Council cut its expenditure by more than £100 million since 2011, resulting in the loss of 1,350 jobs, and has been told it has to save £63 million between 2015 and 2018.
Bernadette Gallagher, Bolton Unison branch secretary, said the figures were “worrying”, but added they recognised the council was working within an agenda set up by Whitehall ministers.
She said: “Bolton Unison is opposed in principle to wholesale cuts within Bolton Council.
"People can see with their own eyes that job losses and cuts to frontline services are having a detrimental effect on our town.
"The loss of local jobs has a direct impact on the town’s economy affecting not only local businesses but also young people who are leaving education with fewer prospects.
“We know that this will get harder and harder as time goes on if the council continues to make deeper and deeper cuts.”
A Freedom of Information request from The Bolton News also showed 382 people have been dismissed from the council since 2008, for reasons including failed probation periods and medical incapacity.
A spokesman for Bolton Council said: “Statutorily, people in posts that are made redundant are entitled to a payment which is calculated using a matrix based on age and length of service.
Staff who take severance and leave the council voluntarily, are also awarded a payment based on length of service, allowing the council to remove their post and make savings sooner.
“Given that the workforce comprises over 5,000 people, the number of dismissals from the council is relatively small, and has remained fairly constant over recent years.
"However, precise numbers inevitably fluctuate from year to year.
"As with standard accountancy practice we have allocated reserves to make some one-off money to fund these costs, thus enabling us to achieve the savings needed to meet our challenging budget targets.”
Deputy council leader Cllr Linda Thomas said: “The council has lost about 1,300 posts as part of saving £100m.
"This has been delivered through voluntary redundancy & severance so while costing a one-off sum of £10m has saved much more every year.”
Opposition have their say
OPPOSITION leaders in Bolton have had their say over the redundancy figures.
Tory group leader Cllr David Greenhalgh said: “There’s nothing wrong if someone wants to take redundancy and fits all the criteria.
“But I have concerns that with the number of people we are losing there is the likelihood of a ‘brain drain’ from the council.
“I’m also concerned that people have taken redundancy and then come back as paid agency staff.”
Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Roger Hayes said: “I’ve got mixed feelings — on the one hand it’s council taxpayers money, but on the other hand many of the employees would have had a very long service with the council, and we’ve managed to make the redundancies so far without any compulsory redundancies.
“Without seeing a further breakdown of the figures I can’t comment on the payouts to individuals.”