BASILDON Council spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on staff redundancy settlements last year, new figures show.

The Local Government Association said unlike the civil service councils have seen their workforce shrink while facing “increasing demand for service”.

They have called for a rethink of Government funding to combat “severe budget pressures”.

New data from the Department for Levelling Up and Communities shows Basildon Council spent £214,000 to make nine staff members redundant in the year to March 2023.

Each package had an average cost of £24,000 each.

The council made a total of 12 redundancies the year before, at a cost of £151,000.

It spent £197,000 less than in the year to 2020, when its bill for redundancies was £410,000.

Craig Rimmer, councillor responsible for economic stimulus, said: “Unfortunately with rising costs, the council does have to make efficiencies and savings each year. And sometimes that comes at a human cost in terms of redundancies.

“We are, however, a good employer and where we have had to let people go, we have always done this in a way that gives enough notice and a package commensurate with the time they have spent working for us.”

Nationally, more than £185 million was spent on staff redundancies by councils across England - the lowest annual amount in nine years. Last year just over £214 million was paid out to departing employees.

The number of staff taking redundancy also hit the lowest point since 2014, with over 7,800 exit packages at an average cost of £23,000.

This was a slight increase on last year when the figure was £22,000.

Councillor Pete Marland, chairman of the LGA’s Resources Board, added: “Despite increasing demand for services, local authorities also face challenges in getting the right people into the right roles, such as in children’s services, adult social care, and planning.

“Our own workforce survey shows 94 per cent said they were experiencing recruitment and retention difficulties.

“Only long-term, consistent funding from central government will be enough to meet inflationary pressures and the rising costs of the National Living Wage, on top of increasing energy and other costs, if we are to avoid more redundancies and prevent exacerbating an already acute capacity crisis in some areas.”