Newham Council bosses defend redundancy figures

OLDER workers at Newham Council are being made redundant at four times the rate of their younger counterparts, new research has revealed.

In the 12 months to last December, over-50s made up 56 per cent of all redundancies at the authority - more than twice the UK-wide average.

Those aged over 50 are also less than a tenth as likely to be recruited by the council than those under 50.

Town hall bosses said voluntary redundancy was often more financially attractive for over-50s and insisted they complied with age discrimination laws.

The figures were obtained using Freedom of Information laws by over-50s support agency Wise Owls as part of their Age Equality Campaign.

Director Chris Walsh said: “There seems to be a complacency within government that by forcing staff aged 50-plus to take redundancy it will be less painful than for younger workers.

“Traditionally older workers have been encouraged to take voluntary redundancy when cuts are needed and it looks as if that mindset has not changed.

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“However, experience from the last cull of older council workers in the 1990s showed that those made redundant often failed to get another job, leaving themselves and their families in poverty, while denuding the council of key knowledge and experience, which meant some had to be re-hired as consultants.”

Of the 133 people made redundant in the 12 months to last December 75 were aged over 50, while those of a similar age accounted for just 120 of the council’s 1464 new starters.

Around 29 per cent of the council’s workforce is made up of over-50s.

A council spokesman said: “Voluntary redundancy is more appealing for people over 50. If you are over 50 and take redundancy then there is a release of pension.

“This is one of the reasons for this age group opting more for redundancy.”

He added: “We apply a stringent equalities process and take particular care to ensure no breaches of equality exist, including ageism.

“We apply mandatory recruitment and selection training for all managers involved in recruitment processes.

“In 2010 more than 13 per cent of council job offers, excluding schools, went to people over 50.”