redundancies cost £2.9 million

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REDUNDANCIES in the merger between Mid Suffolk District Council and Babergh District Council could reach almost £3 million.

Figures revealed at a meeting of Mid Suffolk District Council last week showed the joint cost of the integration could rise to £2.9 million by the end of the year.

But council bosses say the money will be paid back over the next two or three years.

Between them, the councils have already spent £1.7 million on redundancies for 21 members of staff, the majority of whom are senior managers.

Katherine Steel, chief financial officer at Mid Suffolk District Council, said: “Redundancies are one-off payments but the savings they will produce are recurring.

“They will provide ongoing annual savings.

“Our business case around the integration is that we are looking for £2 million of savings per year by 2014 and 2015.

“At the moment we are expecting to contain the figure to £2.9 million.

“What we are doing is investing money now to save money in the future.”

But Miss Steel said there may be additional costs to the merger including updating the integrated council’s IT systems.

She said this will also provide savings in the long term.

Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Merging senior officer functions between councils is one way that some local authorities can make savings without cutting front line services.

“It’s important that any move to merge councils is properly thought out and will deliver savings in the long run.

“The newly merged council must concentrate on ensuring value for money so they can pass on the savings to hard pressed local residents in the form of a council tax cut.”