£50 mil­lion Fife Coun­cil pay-offs

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - COMMENT -

Sir, – Coun­cil­lor Tim Brett is cor­rect in high­light­ing that Fife Coun­cil has paid an av­er­age of £31,780 to the 1,555 staff made re­dun­dant over the last seven years (“Coun­cil spends £50m in just seven years on sev­er­ance pay­ments”, The Courier, Fe­bru­ary 10).

What your re­port didn’t men­tion was the huge vari­a­tions be­tween in­di­vid­u­als. Some got noth­ing, while a few got sums more than 10 times the av­er­age.

There’s noth­ing un­der­hand here. There’s a for­mula and the num­bers are re­ported to coun­cil­lors (but not to the pub­lic).

As the coun­cil’s hu­man re­source ser­vice man­ager said, not all the money goes into the hand of the de­par­tee, but the bit that doesn’t goes boost­ing their pen­sion.

Many take the pen­sion top-up rather than ex­tra cash in hand, pre­sum­ably be­cause they’ve worked out which is the better deal.

The for­mula is based on a max­i­mum pay­back pe­riod of three years, so the value of the pack­age shouldn’t ex­ceed three times the cost of em­ploy­ment (salary, em­ployer’s NI etc).

How­ever, there’s a quirk whereby some­one leaving along­side a col­league who qual­i­fies for lit­tle or noth­ing can get part of that col­league’s three years’ worth.

Some parts of the pay­out for­mula are set in law but the rest is at the coun­cil’s dis­cre­tion.

While all par­ties be­lieve that Fife Coun­cil should be a good em­ployer, the Con­ser­va­tives have twice pro­posed cap­ping the largest pay-outs.

We’ve sug­gested an over­all limit of £100,000 per de­par­tee but all the other par­ties, in­clud­ing Mr Brett’s, voted for the sta­tus quo.

Most of the £50m went to folk on mod­est salaries with mod­est pen­sion prospects.

No one sug­gests that that should change, but even a re­duc­tion from £50m to £49m would have re­leased £1,000,000 for pub­lic ser­vices fac­ing yet an­other round of cuts. Cllr Dave Dempsey. Leader, Fife Coun­cil Con­ser­va­tives, 7 Car­ling­nose Park, North Queens­ferry.

Our school alone saves the state £8 mil­lion per year by ed­u­cat­ing 1000 chil­dren out­with the state. Our tax­pay­ing par­ents pay school fees out of their al­ready­taxed in­come. This pays for chil­dren in state schools, not their own

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