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Labour Cabinet put sweeteners for staff before front line service.

RCT Cabinet have put off for six months a decision which would save the cash strapped Council a considerable amount of money without affecting front line services.
 
They met earlier this week to discuss the lowering of the discretionary payments made to workers who take voluntary early retirement or voluntary redundancy. The scheme run by RCT Council has been regarded by many as over generous for years and this is a cut, say the Welsh Liberal Democrats, that should have been made long ago.

Millions have been paid out in recent years on extra payments over and above the statutory redundancy entitlement.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor and Pontypridd Parliamentary candidate Mike Powell said

"This move is long overdue. However, incredulously whilst the Cabinet were looking at this there was a VER meeting taking place which handed out well over half a million again in top up payments.
 
"This at a time when they are consulting yet again on education cuts.
 
"I cannot understand why the Cabinet have put off making this decision for another six months. They have already said they are looking at more streamlining of management - putting off this decision means that anyone who leaves in the next few months will once again get a very handsome extra payment at the taxpayers' expense."

In the three years up to 2010 RCT council spent more than £9m on voluntary redundancy packages for 274 people. Between 5th July 2011 and 30 January 2013 56 staff members received statutory redundancy payments amounting to £628,173, with early access to pension payments costing £984,173. This amount practically doubled by the addition of non-statutory 'compensatory' payments of £1,548,962.
 
In November 2013 the Cabinet cut the allowance for these additional payments from 74 weeks to 50 weeks. The decision put off by Cabinet this week would have reduced it further to 30 weeks.
 
Councillor Powell added
 
"Employees in the private sector do not enjoy these benefits so why should their money go towards providing them for public service employees - especially when the main beneficiaries have been and continue to be managers who already have a substantial redundancy package and pension.

"These discretionary payments are supposed to be used in exceptional circumstances only. This Council, unlike others, has been handing them out like free toys at McDonalds for years.

"It is always unfortunate when redundancies have to be made, and nobody wants to see staff in that position, but the future financial stability of this Council cannot be put in jeopardy and public service employees cannot continue to enjoy benefits that are not available to the many other private sector workers that contribute to their salaries."

Photograph by www.thecourier.co.uk