The Government is hoping to lose up to 50 employees as part of a voluntary redundancy scheme forming part of a bid to cut staffing and employment costs by £4.1m by the end of 2022.
Staffing measures make up around a fifth of the overall savings target of £20m by the end of 2022, which itself fits into a broader plan of making up £120m in efficiencies between 2020 and 2024.
According to the latest Government Plan, released today, the key tenets of the staff savings plan are: reducing avoidable overtime, reducing fixed-term contracting and agency staff, better managing sickness absence, managing vacancies, recruiting more entry-level employees at a lower pay grade, implementing zero-based budgeting (meaning departments' finances start from scratch each year, rather than unspent funds being carried over), and launching a voluntary redundancy scheme.
Express first reported that a redundancy scheme was under discussion by Ministers in July, and the Treasury Minister approved £915,000 to be used for the scheme the following day. However, at the time, the Government refused to provide further details of the scheme.
While the project is voluntary, the Government expects a cost-benefit ratio of up to 3:1 between 2021 and 2025.
Pictured: John Quinn, the Government's Chief Operating Officer.
Chief Operating Officer John Quinn said the scheme and staffing savings would help the Government with “rebalancing” its finances, among other measures, such as evaluating the services it charges for and reviewing its commercial contracts.
“Obviously, if we are reengineering processes to improve efficiency and effectiveness of them, then you end up at the end of that process of driving efficiencies, having more people than you need to to carry out that particular activity, so one of the ways we will actually release the cash is through the voluntary redundancy programme,” he said.
Mr Quinn said he didn’t expect “vast numbers” of employees to be involved as the programme will be targeted.
“We do not have a firm target at this stage, we are expecting initial numbers to be around 50-ish, but it will all depend on our ability to drive the efficiencies to release those people,” he added.
According to the Government Plan, this could save up to £60,000 in 2022.
Pictured: 33 staff underwent compulsory or voluntary redundancy in 2019, costing £1.9m, while two people were compensated for loss of office (£67,459).
Under the terms of the 2019 voluntary redundancy scheme, which came amid the OneGov restructuring and followed another in 2015 focused on “headcount management”, where their post is lost and offered up as savings, or for severance, where the post cannot be lost but savings can be made through restructuring, those who made successful applications were given a lump sum payment in return.
According to the Government’s latest set of accounts, 33 staff underwent compulsory or voluntary redundancy in 2019, costing £1.9m, while two people were compensated for loss of office (£67,459).
In 2020, a total of 34 individuals received exit payments: nine staff were made compulsory or voluntarily redundant (£374,071), 18 people were compensated for loss of office (£808,173), six had their roles outsourced (£57,876), and one person took voluntary early retirement (£42,589).
The accounts also state that 23 people – a figure including those working for subsidiary companies – received voluntary redundancy payments that made their total remuneration greater than £100,000 in 2020.
Under the Government’s plans to make £100m in savings over four years, which were announced in 2019, voluntary redundancy and early retirement were two key “work streams” for making efficiencies within the Infrastructure, Housing and Environment Department.
14 people applied for voluntary redundancy in 2018, and 28 in 2019, but just five applications were granted in total.
The department has since re-employed 10 former full-time employees: three on a fixed term contract and seven to provide a professional service.
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