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Wandsworth plans £1.5m cut in staff costs

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Wandsworth LBC has set out plans to save £1.5m a year with cuts to sick and overtime pay, reduced redundancy compensation and staff parking charges.

The proposals have been criticised by the unions who described them as “the tip of the iceberg” and warned that the changes would be followed by an increased number of redundancies.

In the plans presented to the council, deputy leader Maurice Heaster (Con) said the proposals were “far-reaching but necessary” because of the need to “significantly” reduce the councils £305m a year staffing bill.

The lion’s share of the £1.5m a year saving would be made by cutting the cost of sick pay by £1.1m, according to council papers.

Wandsworth spent £4.8m on sick pay in 2009-10 and believes it could save almost 25% if it halves the maximum payable from six to three months and does not pay for the first day of sickness.

Unions have expressed particular concern about the equality impact of these changes on women and GMB organiser Paul Grafton said the plans were a “direct attack” on employees with serious illnesses.

GMB have also criticised the council’s plan to introduce the changed terms into all new contracts if agreement cannot be reached with the unions on existing contracts.

Mr Grafton added: “GMB members are wondering when there will be a paper to the council on the excessive pay of the senior directors one of whom was the highest paid local government official in the UK. They also wonder when a paper might come down the line on the expenses and allowances paid to councillors themselves.”

The cost-cutting proposals to be discussed by councillors also include:

  • saving £167,000 a year by reducing overtime from time and a half to time and a quarter
  • generating £133,000 a year by charging staff £35 for parking spaces
  • a £244,000 through reviewed performance pay
  • a 40% reduction in costs of redundancy compensation and early retirements
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