Number of Northants County Council staff who have applied for voluntary redundancy revealed

The new offices of Northants County Council
The new offices of Northants County Council

160 staff at in-crisis Northamptonshire County Council have applied for voluntary redundancy.

The county authority is on a spending lockdown as it aims to find savings of £30m this year and last month it offered all of its 3,000 staff a redundancy option.

Earlier today (Wednesday) at a finance scrutiny meeting at County Hall in Northampton, the authority’s deputy 151 officer James Smith said 160 staff had put their names down to be considered for voluntary redundancy.

The staff had until Monday (July 16) to put their expressions of interest in.

Fire service staff as well as some social workers and some LGSS staff were not allowed to put themselves forward for consideration.

The officer said: “160 staff have put their name forward.

“However that does not mean that we can say that 160 people will be leaving as each case is subject to an assessment.”

The officer said the money to pay for the redundancy packages will come from capital receipts.

The authority has £42m eligible to spend  this year from the sale of One Angel Square and some of these funds will qualify to pay out the packages.

Mr Smith said the redundancy money would meet the flexible use of capital receipts criteria as it would be a one off-cost.

No predictions as to the final cost of the redundancies have yet been made public.

Conservative Cllr Jason Smithers, who represents the Higham Ferrers and Rushden North ward, questioned whether redundancy was going to make savings for the authority.

Mr Smith said some savings from salaries would be seen this year and the full impact would be realised in  2019-20.

When questioned whether the council would be able to meet its budget this year, Mr Smith said it would be ‘extremely difficult’.

He said: “The first stage has been the voluntary redundancy scheme and then clearly there will need to be further service reductions.”

The officer said the council has commissioned legal experts for advice about what to do if last year’s budget did not balance and was therefore unlawful.

The indications are that external auditor KPMG will rule that some of the capital receipts used by the council to balance its budget last year were not permitted.

Their findings should be known next week.