Local government has welcomed a Welsh Audit Office (WAO) report identifying how local councils have delivered the most cost effective workforce reductions compared to the wider public sector in Wales.
With all public bodies making extensive use of early departures as a regrettable but necessary way of reducing workforce costs at a time of sustained austerity, the WAO report examined whether public bodies were achieving value for money.
Gathering information from 58 Welsh public bodies between February and June 2014, the report found the public sector in Wales had generated potential savings of around £305 million per year.
The report concluded that the average cost of early departures across councils and national park authorities in Wales was by far the lowest and stood at around £18,786. This is significantly lower than the Welsh Government, which achieved the highest average sector cost in Wales of £49,983, and is also significantly lower than the average of £37,459 reported for local authorities in Scotland.
Cllr Peter Rees (Neath Port Talbot), WLGA spokesperson for employment said:
“Local councils in Wales face massive reductions to their core funding and one of the highly regrettable outcomes of this is that the local government workforce is shrinking dramatically. Effective early departure policies play a vital role in helping councils to deliver short term cost savings as well as longer term efficiencies, and this report clearly identifies how local government is delivering workforce reductions in the most cost effective way for the public purse in Wales.
“While over 72 per cent of public sector early departures were from within local and national park authorities, council redundancy packages offer far less generous terms than those elsewhere in the Welsh public sector. Indeed, some councils have had to unfortunately reduce their terms even further in recent times due to the continual shrinkage of budgets. While this does little to alleviate the insecurity and stress being placed on local government employees by continued austerity and speculation around future local government reform, it does demonstrate how local government continues to manage these unavoidable changes to its workforce in the most economical way possible.”