Borough council blames funding pressures for the job losses
By Tara O'Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
Merton Council shelled out more than £1m in redundancy payments in just three years – with funding pressures on the local authority being blamed.
A total of 129 members of staff were let go between 2016/17 and 2018/19, the council revealed in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
The toughest year was 2016/17 when 79 people lost their jobs, with the council handing out £622,140 in redundancy pay-outs.
And the hardest hit section was the council’s children, schools and families department.
In 2016/17, a total of 60 members of staff were made redundant from the department. That was followed by another 23 the year after.
Overall, across the three years, the council spent £1,269,465 on the pay-outs.
In 2017/18 a total of 47 people were made redundant. It was just three the following year (2018/19).
This cost the council £619,016 in 2017/18, compared with £28,309 in 2018/19.
To put the lay-offs in context, the number of staff employed by the council in each year was: 1,870 in 2016/17; 1,731 in 2017/18 and 1,771 in 2018/19.
Merton Council’s cabinet member for finance, Councillor Mark Allison (pictured left), described the pay-outs as unavoidable but added that it is money he would “rather spend on our communities”.
Mr Allison said: “Like all councils, Merton has had to make enormous savings, worth many tens of millions of pounds, due to the massive reductions in the funding we receive from the government, and unfortunately, as the majority of our expenditure is spent on staffing, the inevitable consequence is redundancies.
“Where we can, we offer staff the chance to apply for alternative positions, and advice about training, but, if staff can’t be redeployed, then the impact of these cuts is that redundancy payments that comply with legislation are sadly unavoidable.
“The government has cut funding to councils by more than half since 2010, and, as a business-like council, we call on them to reverse their cuts so that we can provide good services for our residents without being forced to make redundancy payments that we would rather spend on our communities.”
May 21, 2019