Confusion over headcount figures at SBC

Scottish Borders Council headquarters in Newtown St Boswells.
Scottish Borders Council headquarters in Newtown St Boswells.

Despite Scottish Borders Council shedding 85 posts through severance and redundancy deals over the past three years, the impact on overall staffing levels remains unclear.

In 2012/13, 41 staff were given voluntary severance deals worth £562,376, with the highest paid pocketing £37,000 and the lowest just £680.

The following year, a further 17 accepted packages worth £480,000 with the severance payments ranging from £1,844 to £82,569.

In 2014/15, with the council committed to further reducing its workforce “to address budgetary pressures”, eight severance packages, worth £85,671 were approved, including one of £18,344.

Also last year a further 21 staff received redundancy payments of £302,633, the highest being £38,706.

Just how these departures affect the overall headcount at SBC is, however, shrouded in confusion after the council this week admitted inconsistences and omissions in the statistical information it had issued on staffing levels.

In March, the Scottish Government, on its Public Sector Employment website, stated the headcount figure at SBC was 5,700.

This was at variance with a Freedom of Information response issued by the council in January when the requester was told there were 6,421 employees on the books. And last month, a workforce data report to councillors claimed the actual jobs total was 6,131.

A council spokesperson said: “The council is currently working with the Scottish Government to review the figures and arrange for amended figures to be published.”