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Town hall pay restraint eased
6:24pm Wednesday 4th December 2013 in News
A Conservative councillor has criticised the timing of the reintroduction of a “generous” pay benefit for council staff.
Cllr Iain Gartside, Bury’s Tory leader, has questioned why pay increments for council staff will begin again from next year, while further cuts are having to be made to budgets.
However, Bury Counci bosses say that staff have been subject to a three-year pay freeze and have lost three days of their annual leave, and that they want to ensure hard work and loyalty is not ignored.
It is understood that not all employees will be entitled to a pay increment, depending on where they are on their pay scale.
A memo to Bury Council staff, seen by the Bury Times and Radcliffe Times, states that any employee who was due an increment when the freeze was implemented in 2011 will be entitled to one from April, 2014.
The memo also states that the funding for increments is factored into the 2014-15 and future budgets, and does not impact on the Plan for Change 3 budget programme currently under consultation.
Last year the council approved a budget that would deliver £7.4 million worth of cuts in 2014/15. Under Bury Council’s Plan For Change 3 savings programme, the council has announced that a further £2.2 million worth of cuts will also have to be found for 2014/15 due to a reduction in funding from central Government. It is understood that reinstating pay increments would cost about £500,000 per year from the council’s revenue budget.
Cllr Gartside said: “The current Labour administration is reintroducing a generous pay benefit for council staff that most working people do not have the luxury of receiving in their jobs.
“The question from the council taxpayer of Bury is why should £500,000 of their money be used to fund this at a time when their council tax bills have been increased by 3.7 per cent, parking charges have been substantially increased and when frontline services have been cut?”
Bury Council leaders have said that they are trying to protect frontline services as much as possible, and are doing so by finding savings from “internal efficiencies”. Cllr Mike Connolly, leader of Bury Council, said: “Our staff have borne the brunt of huge council cuts over the past few years, and they are again in the frontline as we seek to make even more cuts in the upcoming budget.
“On top of that, they are battling to deliver services that are vital to the community, while having to do the job with far fewer staff than we once had. The council, in fact, has lost more than 300 posts since 2010. It’s time to call a halt to at least one aspect of this scenario, and assure our employees that their hard work and loyalty is not being ignored or taken for granted.”
Steve Morton, secretary of Bury Unison, added: “It is disingenuous of the Tory party to say anything about staff increments. When they were in power, they announced the highest savings on record, which was near the same amount that was saved by the pay freeze, and the money was not put into saving staff.”
n A public consultation is open for residents to submit their thoughts on the latest cuts, with feedback welcomed until January 17 next year by visiting bury.gov.uk/planforchange or calling 0161 253 5696.
The budget will be passed on February 19 next year.
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