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AGREEMENTS IS CLOSE ON COMPENSATION

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The local authority associations are close to finalising their views on suitable compensation arrangements for peop...
The local authority associations are close to finalising their views on suitable compensation arrangements for people who lose their jobs because of reorganisation. The proposals will be submitted to the Staff Commission, which was established to advise the DoE on personnel issues. The associations are likely to accept the maximum 66 week lump sum payment which the government has proposed should be available for normal redundancies.

But unlike those arrangements, a scheme for reorganisation must be national and mandatory, they will argue. There is a concern that if the government accepts a standard national scheme it may try to force through a lower maximum limit than 66 weeks.

The government is putting out hawkish noises about the amount of money available for compensation packages. Junior Welsh Minister Gwilym Jones warned a conference of personnel managers not to expect the kind of arrangements which applied at the 1974 reorganisation. 'People are concerned, rightly, about the scale of early retirement benefits in the public sector, the cost of which has to be met ultimately by the tax payer', he said.

'Every action has to be justified on its merits, and against that background the government will be considering carefully the calls for the local government early retirement scheme to be enhanced and expanded during the period of reorganisation'.

The associations are also likely to press for the size of compensation payments to be linked to length of service and age. For general arrangements the associations have rejected age and service banding to give councils flexibility. But for reorganisation they will argue it is needed to protect those in the 40-50 age bracket. The national bodies have been testing different models which would allow resources to be targeted at the 40-50 age group, who are likely to be the most vulnerable during reorganisation.

The over 50s can receive their pension as soon as they retire while the under 50s have to wait until they are 60 before they can receive a pension. The associations are likely to press for terms similar to those available for the 1986 reorganisation, which set a limit of 30 weeks' maximum payment for the over 50s to balance their advantageous pension position. Options such as freezing an under 50s' pension and allowing it to kick in when the individual reaches 50 are under consideration. The option of calling for a lowering of the age barrier to 45, for example, is thought to be unworkable.

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