Northampton

Northamptonshire County Council: Failed authority's £2.5m redundancy pay

Northamptonshire County Council's new headquarters
Image caption Northamptonshire County Council banned all new spending for 2017/18, but paid out £2.5m in redundancy packages

A cash-strapped council has paid out £2.5m in redundancy packages in the past 12 months.

Northamptonshire County Council made the payments during the 2017/18 financial year.

The authority was forced to ban all new spending in an attempt to balance its books during the same year.

The council said when any organisation was going "through a period of transformation" there was "inevitably a need to budget for redundancy costs".

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), the authority is refusing to disclose how many staff members received payments and what the biggest redundancy package was.

Image caption An independent inspection of Northamptonshire County Council recommended it should be replaced by two new unitary authorities

Labour county councillor John McGhee has called for the names of senior officers who have left the authority over the past four years to be revealed, as well as any payments made to them.

Mr McGhee said for many years he and other Labour councillors had questioned how many senior officers were coming and going from top positions.

Former county council chief executive Paul Blantern was given a redundancy payment of at least £95,000.

The £2.5m redundancy figure was revealed in the authority's Flexible Use of Capital receipts report for 2017/18.

It describes the redundancy payments as "costs of reorganisation to change the council and service delivery model".

External auditor KMPG is currently reviewing a sample of the redundancy payments.

The council spokesman said: "When any organisation is going through a period of transformation and associated changes in staffing, there is inevitably a need to budget for redundancy costs."

Despite banning all new spending in an attempt to balance its books for 2017/18, the authority was forced to use its financial reserves to make up a £16.7m shortfall.

Commissioners are expected to take over the running over the county council by the end of this month after an independent, government-commissioned report said the authority should be scrapped.

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