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Cost of exit packages for eligible Swansea and Carmarthenshire council staff fell in 2020-2021

THE cost of exit packages for eligible Swansea and Carmarthenshire council staff fell in 2020-2021 compared to the previous year.

It was also lower for Swansea Bay University Health Board, but higher for Hywel Dda University Health Board in West Wales.

Draft accounts for Swansea Council show that 44 employees received exit packages in 2020-21, which include a pension contribution element, costing £922,000 in total.

The majority, including seven compulsory redundancies, received a figure from zero to £20,000. At the other end of the scale, one member of staff’s exit package was between £100,001 and £150,000.

The previous year the council shelled out just over £2 million for 107 pay-outs, including for 30 compulsory redundancies.

The draft accounts said: “The average payback against all early retirement / voluntary redundancy packages agreed for 2020-21 is less than a year.”

The financial situation for the public sector was unprecedented during the Covid pandemic year.

Councils and health boards were on the frontline, and vast sums of central Government washed in and washed out of their accounts to help pay for this essential work.

In previous years, belt-tightening at a national level resulted in local authorities losing more staff – for example in 2017-18 Swansea Council paid out £7.4 million to 217 departing employees.

Legislation passed last year, which capped exit payments at £95,000, was revoked in February after the UK Government conceded it may have had “unintended consequences” for the lowest paid workers.

Carmarthenshire Council spent just over £570,000 on exit packages in 2020-21 for 48 staff, again including pension contributions. The highest sum was between £80,001 and £100,000. This compares to a £1.45 million pay-out bill for 97 staff the previous year – and £2.87 million for 118 staff in 2017-18.

Meanwhile, Swansea University Health Board recorded no exit package costs in 2020-21 and only one – for £73,922 – the previous year.

But Hywel Dda University Health Board paid out just over £357,000 in 2020-21 compared to £24,800 the previous year. Its accounts indicate five exit packages, including one for £167,471 and another for £143,529.

Asked by the Local Democracy Reporter Service if these two staff were clinical or non-clinical, a health board spokeswoman said: “The health board can confirm the two exit packages referred to were both for non-clinical individuals.”

She added that all exit packages went through a formal process in line with other NHS Wales organisations.

Meanwhile, Welsh Government environment body Natural Resources Wales spent £204,000 on six departing staff compared to £1.47 million on 31 leavers in 2019-20.

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