Council staff offered opportunity to leave voluntarily


Plymouth City Council is to ask its staff if they want to leave voluntarily as part of a package of measures to reduce employee costs to help ease ongoing budget pressures. It is hoped the time-limited voluntary release scheme for staff will help contribute to the £10 million savings needed to balance the books this financial year.

The Council needs to reduce spending, including staff costs, due to the ongoing reductions in its funding from the Government and the rising cost of providing some critical services, such as caring for vulnerable children and providing social care for the elderly and adults with learning disabilities. Councillor Mark Lowry, Cabinet member for Finance, said: “We have been successful in weathering more than a decade of Government cuts to our funding while meeting the huge rise in the cost of providing social care services. 

“It is a credit to the Council staff that we have been able to maintain services while dealing with these ongoing financial challenges. This has only been possible by working in new ways, joining up services with our partners, streamlining our processes, maximising the opportunities from digital technology, making better use of our properties and assets and being innovative in finding ways of raising income.

“This has to continue and further changes to the way we work will mean our employee numbers need to reduce as well. As with many organisations, a big proportion of our total budget is staff costs. The voluntary release scheme has the potential to help reduce the Council’s staffing costs by enabling employees to leave if they wish to do so, helping reduce the need for compulsory redundancies.”

Councillor Lowry said that while the additional costs of providing support services during COVID-19 was putting more pressure on the Council’s already stretched finances, the voluntary release was necessary to help meet pre-existing pressures.

Councillor Pete Smith, deputy leader of the Council, said: “We recognise that Council staff have been working incredibly hard to deliver services against a very difficult background of year after year of funding reductions. Many employees have also been working flat out to continue delivering services during the Covid-19 pandemic while also providing additional support to the community.

“As the organisation continues to change and evolve we always aim to avoid compulsory redundancies. The voluntary release scheme provides an opportunity for any staff members who might already be thinking of leaving to do so, which helps reduce the risk of having to make compulsory redundancies.”