Severance packages cost council £2m

More than 100 staff took redundancy or early retirement from Argyll and Bute Council last year, costing nearly £2m – but saving the authority over £1.6m annually.

The figures were revealed as the council started consulting the public on its next round of budget cuts, billed as ‘securing a prosperous future for the area’.

A report by head of improvement and HR Jane Fowler to next week’s full council meeting states there were 104 severance packages in the 12 months ending on April 1 2013, with an average cost of £19,198.

Over the first three years this will save nearly £5m, but 11 people who left during this period have already been re-employed by the council – seven on a casual basis, three in temporary jobs and one in a permanent post.

This week the council’s Helensburgh and Lomond area committee agreed changes to its amenity budget which will see nearly £77,000 per year – the equivalent or two or three full time jobs – saved by reducing the maintenance of verges and closing public toilets in Garelochhead.

Launching the budget consultation, council leader Dick Walsh said there would be ‘relative financial stability’ until April 2016.

“The need to make significant savings which has impacted on our budget in previous years does not apply to the same extent in these two years,” he said.

“However, our funding is projected to drop significantly from 2016 onwards. We’re going to use these two years to plan for delivering services with reduced funding.

“Our challenge in securing a prosperous future for Argyll and Bute is to increase our population. It is people who keep communities thriving.”

As revealed here, the area’s population has the highest average in Scotland and is falling faster than any other part of the country.

An on-line survey asks people about services that impact on their lives and about their views on priorities in securing a prosperous future for the area.

It will be available at until January 24.