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Calls to limit Medway Council's 'astonishing' redundancy payouts

Medway Council has been accused of spending an “astonishing” amount of money on redundancy packages over the past five years.

A Freedom of Information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service shows the unitary authority spent £1,260,793.33 on exit payments for staff between 2013/14 and 2017/18.

There have been 147 compulsory redundancies at Gun Wharf during that time, making the average payout for staff just over £8,500.

Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham.Picture: Steve Crispe FM3623411 (4911289)
Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham.Picture: Steve Crispe FM3623411 (4911289)

However, that figure is likely to be significantly lower in reality – as the biggest individual redundancy packages were worth £48,010.01 in 2015/16 and £42,592.83 in 2016/17.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Thanks to politicians hiking spending and driving up the number of bureaucrats to unsustainable levels, there are likely to be job losses in the public sector and that can’t come with this kind of astonishing price tag.

“Action needs to be taken to limit these payments and organisations shouldn’t be offering such generous contractual terms in the first place.

“Cuts are still necessary as we are still borrowing too much and not yet living within our means.”

The number of compulsory redundancies fell year-on-year between 2013/14 and 2016/17, but the number spiked by 70% (20 to 34) in 2017/18.

Carrie McKenzie, assistant director of transformation at Medway Council, responded: “Whilst compulsory redundancies are regrettable, unfortunately at times they are necessary.

“Medway Council pays redundancy based on an employee’s age, job and their length of employment.

“To qualify for redundancy pay, an employee has to have had at least two years’ service.

“We actively support staff at risk of redundancy by providing additional training to support them into redeployment roles, if relevant, and therefore we only make compulsory redundancies as a last resort at Medway Council.”

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