The rich get rich and the poor get poorer’, never did the words of this old song ring more true than today. 

Anyone who has faced redundancy knows it’s pretty awful, so most of us will feel some sympathy for anyone finding him or herself in that situation. 

However, the County Council’s Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy Scheme is extraordinarily generous especially when one considers it is financed by the public purse. Yes, the funds (£10 million has been set aside) may be coming from the Council’s reserves, but it should not be forgotten that this is our money, held by the Council on our behalf. 

The County claims that cutting management posts will save around £36 million over the next four years, so the up front costs are worth it. We say that if they had stayed with the compulsory redundancy scheme the savings would have been substantially more. 

Here is an example: 

Employee, 50 years old, 15 years service, salary £75K (average for a senior manager)

Basic statutory scheme payment £8,000

County Council’s compulsory scheme payment £28,000

County Council’s enhanced voluntary scheme payment £56,000(BBC South Today figure) 

The Leader of the Council, Ken Thornber, says that this generous redundancy pay is deserved. I fail to see why. The Scheme is open to all employees, but let’s concentrate on the 150 senior managers whom the Council is looking to lose and who are being encouraged to take advantage of this Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy Scheme. 

They have received very high salaries, possibly bonuses or honorariums in the recent past. These high salaries, accompanied by an employer’s contribution to the Local Government Pension Scheme of around 19% on top of those salaries, lead to the sort of pensions most of us can only dream of, and of course, to these very high redundancy payments. 

When interviewed by BBC South Today recently, Ken Thornber drew particular attention to employees with 30 to 35 years service, salary of around £60K - £70K, who have “earned that money and are going to forego it for 2, 3, 4 years.” This appears to us to indicate that at least some of these volunteers are close to retirement, and we are given to understand that if they are aged 55 or over, they will be entitled to the immediate, unreduced payment of LGPS benefits. If this is the case, then for some, on top of this generous redundancy package will come their equally generous pension. For that person with 35 years service, at present earning £70K, we believe this pension to be £31,500 plus a lump sum of £84K. Details can be found on the Hampshire County Council website  http://www3.hants.gov.uk/employee_guide_2011_final.doc  see pages 7 and 8. Readers   see the rules and work it out for themselves.  .  .

 It is being said that for those senior people who are close to retirement anyway, this could be quite a good deal. The Council, predictably, says that whatever payment they get needs to be enough not to leave them “struggling”. 

 “Struggling”? We don’t think so. And let’s admit it, how many of us – in their shoes – wouldn’t be jostling for a place in the queue? 

I am contributing to this out of my pension as all other council taxpayers and income tax payers do from their often meagre salaries. The claim that the public sector is lower paid than the private sector is now something that no longer applies and hasn’t for many years – and yet the terms and conditions of employment give them the cream, while we, the employer, in many cases go without 

The Council says that this money is available because of savings made over the years. Good financial management, saving for a rainy day. Yes, Isitfair acknowledges this. But we find it very difficult to agree this is the best way of using money, which may soon, in these hard times, be genuinely needed elsewhere. 

Many of our members have contacted us since the BBC interview, most of them asking the same question.  If the Council is in a position to make these people redundant now, why were they employed in the first place?  And being rather cynical, how many of these redundant senior managers will turn up as consultants in a few months time?      

    Isitfair The Nationwide Campaign Calling For The Reform Of The Council Tax System.  Please visit www.isitfair.co.uk