Another 35 to leave SBC at cost of £1M

IT will cost Scottish Borders Council more than £1million to make early retirement or voluntary service payments to 35 employees whose annual salaries currently total £682,000.

But it will only take an average of around 18 months for the local authority to recoup these costs with annual payroll savings of £736,000.

And that, councillors heard last week, represented an “attractive proposition” to the council, which has already agreed with the unions to make no compulsory redundancies in exchange for a pay freeze.

They approved a report by acting human resources manager Clair Hepburn who reminded them the purpose of cutting the headcount was “to facilitate the reduction in overall costs to the council”.

The latest cull across revamped departments comes just seven months after the council approved the exodus of 180 employees, including 50 teachers, at a cost of £4.5million, to achieve annual savings of £3.43million.

On that occasion, the departing staff had been chosen from more than 600, who, in November last year, expressed an interest in quitting either through early retirement – for those over the age of 50 who can access their pension – or voluntary severance, with employees getting a compensation payment but no pension and whose posts would not necessarily be declared redundant.

Ms Hepburn reported that, since then, there had been a further 79 expressions of interest from non-teaching staff in leaving the council and that, of these, 35 had been selected.

“All volunteers were evaluated against a number of criteria, including length of services, skills held, cost and financial payback, by the appropriate director,” she reported.

The applications by the 35 had all been supported by their relevant directors.

Thus, 15 staff will go from social work, nine from environment and infrastructure, five from education, five from resources and one from the chief executive’s department.