The �7m cost of council redundancies in Norfolk

Councils in Norfolk have spent more than �7m making more than 700 workers redundant in the past three years, new figures have revealed.

As Norfolk County Council agreed to set aside �20m to cover payments in the next wave of job cuts, figures obtained through the Freedom Of Information Act showed the number of workers already made redundant in the past three years. Between 2008 and the start of December last year, 737 people were made redundant at county, district and city councils in Norfolk.

Norfolk County Council has been the council which has made the most redundancies, with 643 jobs lost over the past three years – at a cost of just under �6m.

The figures emerged as members of Norfolk County Council's ruling cabinet recommended a budget package which will see the council shed 1,300 posts in the coming three years as it grapples to save �155m over that period. A spokesman said the council, which has set aside �10m in each of the next two years to cover redundancy costs, had a 'good track record' of responding to change.

He said the council tried to avoid compulsory redundancy, but, with up to 1,000 posts set to disappear in the year ahead as services change, some would be unavoidable.

He added the 'vast majority' of redundancies over the past three years were at schools, where headteachers and governing bodies, not the county council, made those decisions.

He said a 'significant number' of managers' posts were already in the process of disappearing after a review of the highest paid staff last year and confirmed the amounts paid to redundant staff had been reduced 'to reflect the new financial climate.'

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Jonathan Dunning, branch secretary for UNISON Norfolk, which has been campaigning against the looming job cuts and were involved in lobbying outside yesterday's council meeting, said it was a false economy to make people redundant.

He said: 'Making people redundant costs the employer money and it costs the economy money as you take spending power out of the economy. And it costs the taxpayer money as people who are made redundant as they have to claim benefits.'

At Norwich City Council 39 people have been made redundant in the past three years at a cost of �871,668. The council has yet to reveal what impact the cuts will have on staff numbers in the years ahead.

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said: 'Every year the city council looks for ways in which to identify savings and efficiencies. Although we have worked hard to avoid compulsory redundancies over the last few years there have inevitably been some.

'The nature and scale of the financial challenges that lie ahead will be immense but we always try to make sure we protect services as much as possible and continue to provide the important services that our residents rely on us to deliver.'

South Norfolk Council, where two workers have been made redundant in the past three years, and Broadland District Council, where four staff were made redundant in that time, are hoping to avoid redundancies.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has made the fewest redundancies of any council in the region – none in 2008 or 2009 and just one last year.

Do you have a story about council spending? Contact Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email