We do consider the true and full cost

PUBLISHED: 10:05 22 May 2006 | UPDATED: 09:19 24 May 2010

MR ORME last week expressed his concern over the cost of a staff redundancy at North Somerset Council.

MR ORME last week expressed his concern over the cost of a staff redundancy at North Somerset Council. This letter, and the story the previous week which prompted it, contain a number of inaccuracies, which must be corrected. First, Mr Orme asserts that council staff "have the right to retire at 50 on a full pension". They do not. Most council staff retire at the legal retirement age - only in very specific circumstances can they retire earlier. But Mr Orme's central point is about the high cost of redundancy. It is not appropriate for me - or anyone else - to discuss the circumstances of the individual member of staff that prompted the original story but I can say that the actual redundancy payment made to the individual is only a fraction of the figure quoted. I can assure your readers that we do consider the true and full cost of our decisions and we therefore compensate the pension fund for the "strain" (i.e. loss of contributions) brought about by an early retirement. Membership of the pension scheme is a right of the member of staff and the terms and conditions of the pension scheme are set nationally by Government, not by us. And yes, this shows that redundancy is often an expensive option, especially where the person concerned has many years experience. It is precisely because of the cost that redundancy is a last resort and we seek to make savings by redeploying staff to other jobs or by not filling vacancies. It is bizarre that Cllr Mike Roe should describe this is as "an absolute scandal". The decisions taken by the Liberal Democrat administration will deliver £900,000 of savings annually, and it is in taxpayers' interests that we have so far only incurred one redundancy to achieve them. Our objective is not to make people redundant, but to save money.COUNCILLOR MIKE BELL - Liberal Democrat Executive for Finance and PerformanceNorth Somerset Council

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