Puzzling story on the BBC Wales website today - “Welsh councils' £57m redundancy spending in three years.”
It outlines the very substantial amount of money spent by Welsh Councils on making workers redundant in the past three years, yet on my first glance through this morning it didn’t ring true. It reads:
“Wales' 22 local authorities have spent a total of over £57m on redundancy payments over the last three years.
“The money was spent on redundancy payments to 3,630 people, a Freedom of Information request by BBC Wales has revealed.
“The councils that spent the most on redundancies were Cardiff (£15.1m), Newport (£6.5m) and Swansea (£3.2m).”
My addled brain even at that time of day held a vague recollection of figures from RCT far exceeding £6m. A quick phone call to colleague Mike Powell confirmed this. So he did some more digging and contacted the BBC reporter. Did the BBC have it wrong or were RCT Council not being altogether truthful. It turns out to be a bit of both.
The reporter had asked every Council in Wales the following:
I would like to know how much the council has spent on redundancy payments - a/voluntary b/compulsory - over the past three years, by providing figures
1. total value of payments
2. number of individuals
3. largest payment to an individual?
More than two months and two reminders later the reply came
1) 2008/09 - £905,723; 2009/10 - £2,212,599; 2010/11 - £4,631,608
2) 2008/09 - 33; 2009/10 - 114; 2010-11 - 165
N.B. All Voluntary Redundancy - No Compulsory redundancies.
Now adding up the first three figures you get £7,749,930 - which is greater than the figure quoted for Newport and Swansea. It seems then the BBC man was in error. However, this is only part of the story.
In November 2010 the BBC itself reported on the over generous redundancy packages being offered by RCT
“The second biggest council in Wales has spent an average of £33,000 on each redundancy package to staff over the past three years, figures show. Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) council has spent more than £9m on voluntary redundancy packages for 274 people.”
Councillor Mike Powell, then our Pontypridd Assembly candidate, brought into the open figures which showed that on top of the redundancy payments they were entitled to staff were leaving with very generous ‘golden handshakes.’
The figures issued to him then certainly do not gel with those given to the BBC.
Figures we had then showed that in 2010 alone RCT spent £2,218,594 in early access to pension costs. £1,263,393 in statutory redundancy and £2,936,400 in compensatory payments.
A total of £6,418.387. So where do RCT get the figures they gave the BBC? Or did they conveniently forget to add on the extra ‘compensatory payments they shelled out?
Whichever way you look at it these figures do not add up and yet again the press is feeding the general public inaccurate information. If I was running Newport or Swansea Councils I’d be a little bit peeved.