Merton Council Staff Face Redundancy Risk

More than 200 workers face losing their jobs

Merton Council has put 222 workers at risk of redundancy as the authority faces meeting a £26 million budget gap.

The council will be setting its budget for 2011-12 on Wednesday (March 2) and a series of cuts to a variety of services, from reducing the parks budget to scrapping discretionary freedom passes, have already been proposed.

With the council having to save £10.219m in 2011-12 and another £6.221m the following year, it has said this week that 222 members of staff could be made redundant by July.

All redundant employees would receive an enhanced redundancy package worth twice the statutory minimum. Statutory redundancy would see employees aged 21-40 receive one week's pay for each year of service, up to a £400-a-week maximum. The council will base its redundancy package on actual pay (not just the £400 maximum) and apply a 2x multiplier.

A Merton Council spokesperson said: "It is correct that there are currently 222 people at risk of redundancy but this figure is ever changing and the council is doing its best to avoid compulsory redundancies wherever possible.

"Also please note this figure is likely to be reduced as the council seeks to find employees suitable alternatives whether through redeployment, voluntary redundancy, retirement or changed working options."

Conservative Finance Spokesman, Councillor Diane Neil Mills said: "Some of the proposed redundancies relate to reductions in back office staff. Whilst we are always sorry to impose compulsory redundancies, it is right that every penny of taxpayers' money is spent in the most cost efficient manner and as such we fully support the reduction in back office staff, where it reflects improved efficiencies.

"In addition to these back office efficiency savings, however, Labour is proposing to cut front-line services, which will result in further redundancies. We do not support these proposals, particularly as we believe that there are further efficiency savings to be achieved.

"We therefore propose to use the £1 million surplus in this year's budget to protect services that residents value whilst we drive further efficiencies in the organisation and consider alternative ways of providing front-line services, particularly through the use of technology.  Full details of these proposals will be put forward at the Budget Council Meeting on 2 March 2011.

"Labour are trying to justify the cuts they have chosen to make to front-line services on the reduction in council funding. The reduction of £7 million, representing just over three percent of the council’s discretionary spending, is a Labour legacy - necessary to pay off Labour's huge national debt.  By blaming cuts in front-line services on the Coalition Government, Labour are not only wrong, they are playing politics with people's lives."

February 27, 2011