ABC council spends almost 1.2m in exit packages

Thursday, 17 August 2017

ARMAGH City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council paid out nearly 1.2m in 13 staff redundancies for the year 2015-16.

The pay-outs were made during the inaugural year of the new council that was the result of the merging of the legacy councils of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon two years ago. In that year the number of councils across the province dropped from 26 to 11.

Four ABC employees each received 'ex i t packa ges' of between 150,001 and 200,000 - the highest package bracket - totalling 718,000. One individual, left with a redundancy payment of 112,000.

Meanwhile, two staff members each received 71,000, with three others walked away with redundancies totalling 140,000.

Two employees left with 30,000 each, with a further individual receiving 20,000 - the lowest payout. In all, 1.192m was paid out by the ABC council.

In the neighbouring Newry, Mourne Down District Council, meanwhile, a total of 2,026,923 was paid out in 22 staff redundancies during the same period.

Between 2011-12 and 2015-16 a total of 555 exit packages were paid out by councils across Northern Ireland, at a cost of 32.1m - according to figures compiled by the Local Government Auditor.

At a local level, a spokesperson for ABC Council stressed the payouts will bring significant savings to the ratepayer in the long term. "Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is responsible for ensuring that public money is safeguarded and properly accounted for and used economically, efficiently and effectively on behalf of all ratepayers," they explained.

"Arrangements to provide severance to local government staff who leave their employment as a result of the Review of Public Administration (RPA) reform in Northern Ireland was agreed regionally through the Northern Ireland Executive, the Public Service Commission and adopted by all 11 new councils. Each application is made under agreed RPA guidelines, subject to a business case and scrutinised at full council to determine a decision.

"As a result of severance agreements made in financial year 2015-16 (April-March), I'm pleased to confirm that the council will accrue savings in the region of 2.6m for the three full financial years to the end of March 2020 following an initial outlay in the region of 1.2m.

Thus, the total net saving within this period alone, not counting future years beyond 2020, is around 1.4m."

A spokesperson for ABC Council was keen to clarify that any agreed exit packages can be made up of two elements. "These include redundancy, which is paid to the employee, and, secondly, a payment which is made to the pension provider. The pension payment is only made if the employee is eligible to retire early."


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