Newham Council launches voluntary redundancy scheme

The council offices at Newham Dockside. Picture: Ken Mears

The council offices at Newham Dockside. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Newham Council has embarked on a wave of voluntary redundancy offers.

Local union reps have reported that in excess of 200 jobs could be affected.

If the figure is correct it would mark the biggest voluntary redundancy programme embarked on at Newham since 2013/14.

The invitation for people to consider an application was made in September.

When asked about the plans, a council spokeswoman said: "In previous years the voluntary redundancy scheme has been very successful and popular with members of staff.

"The scheme applies across the organisation and is applied for by individual members of staff. The council does not approach individual employees or target particular departments.

"As the process is not yet concluded we could not confirm or comment on the numbers involved to this point."

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Last year there were just 14 compulsory redundancies and 41 "other departures agreed" at Newham, with exit packages costing £914,000: half the £1.8million of 2017/18.

The last large-scale redundancy schemes took place five years ago.

In 2013/14 some 256 staff - of whom 69 were at pensionable age - were made redundant at a cost of £2.4m, and 123 more were made redundant at a cost of £1.1m in 2014/15.

Unite regional officer Onay Kassab said the last time Unite conducted research, its members were leaving with redundancy packages averaging £6,000 or £7,000.

He said: "The high earners skew the total so people tend to think that anybody who goes is getting a huge amount, but these were the averages.

"This used to be a regular occurrence until a few years ago. It's an easy way for local authorities to make cuts and it's very difficult for unions to oppose. If we've got members who want to head off we don't want to stop them.

"The problem for us is that the work still remains. The jobs need to be done and the services need to be provided, so it's not ideal. With local authorities now cut to the bone, we are worried."