SBC urged to make £4.5m payout to departing staff

SCOTTISH Borders Council is set to agree today to pay out more than £4.5million to get rid of 180 staff who have applied to leave the local authority.

About £2.8million will go on lump sums to the employees, selected from more than 600 who, in November, expressed an interest in quitting their jobs. The balance of £1.7million is the additional cost to the Local Government Pension Scheme of staff retiring early.

The chosen ones, who include 50 teachers, are not named, nor are their job titles revealed, in a report recommending the job cuts which will be considered at today’s full council meeting.

It is also not specified if the staff have taken early retirement – for those over the age of 50 who can access their pension – and those selected for voluntary severance, whereby staff get a compensation payment but whose posts are not necessarily declared redundant.

It is understood that some elected members being asked to make the decision were not, by yesterday, aware of who has been chosen from the council’s 5,813 headcount.

But leader David Parker offered the following assurance: “Some councillors have seen the names and job titles and members will have that opportunity to do this before the meeting.”

The report sanctioned by director of resources Tracey Logan says all those who had expressed an interest in voluntary severance or early retirement had been evaluated against a number of criteria, including length of service, skills held, cost and financial payback. That appraisal had been conducted by departmental directors and reviewed by chief executive David Hume.

The reports sets out the administrative, professional, technical and clerical (APTC) employees affected, comprising one from Mr Hume’s department, 24 from Ms Logan’s resources department, 34 in education and 29 in social work. In addition one will go in planning and economic development and 41 in technical services: two departments in the process of being merged under the banner of environment and infrastructure.

The 50 teachers leaving the council comprise 41 in education and nine in social work, which now has responsibility for learning support to children with additional needs.

The teaching staff will, at £1.08million, receive a proportionately higher level of one-off lump sums than their APTC colleagues who will get £1.74million in similar payments.

The report puts the savings as a result of losing the 180 staff at £4.84 million, although when costs, including the regrading of certain posts, are taken into account, the net annual saving to the council will be £3.43million.