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Shock as Birmingham Council scraps voluntary redundancy scheme after two months

Birmingham City Council has scrapped the voluntary redundancy scheme offered to all employees in August.

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Birmingham Council House

More than 10,000 employees were told on August 25 they could apply for Mutually Agreed Resignation Scheme (MARS) to save the cash-strapped council money.

However, shocked employees, many of whom who agonised over the decision to leave, were told the council could not afford the scheme after all.

The council’s chief executive Deborah Cadman emailed them yesterday morning informing them no-one can take the offer due to the cost of implementing the scheme.

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm a decision has been made to stop the MARS process meaning no MARS applications will be approved. This was a collective decision made by the Corporate Leadership Team and the Commissioners.

“As part of our financial recovery, the council is focused on making savings and any decisions made need to consider our current financial position. The cost of MARS was far greater than we anticipated.”

The council is currently in a very different situation from when we first announced MARS, and we must take a more considered and stringent approach to our budget challenges and any changes to staffing.”

Birmingham City Council has become a financial basket case after the taxpayer has been forced to foot historic equal pay claims totally a billion pound.

As the council looks to cut front line services employees are furious at huge financial failures including £100 million bill for a ill-fated IT and finance system, and rocketing costs of dealing with homelessness, adult care and children’s services.

Legal advocate David Kuczora helped advise employees about equal pay claims and believes the Government commissioners, parachuted into run the authority, might have baulked at directors cashing in on big redundancy pay outs.

He said: “I’m sure when voluntary redundancy opportunities were announced, Champagne corks were popping amongst the top brass at the Council House. The most senior mandarins who oversaw diabolical failures in dysfunctional departments were effectively offered a golden life raft off the sinking ship Birmingham City Council - with millions in payouts for their mismanagement.

“Hopefully now a proper analysis will ensue, uncovering exactly what and who is responsible for the appalling performance. When the axe falls, those responsible deserve to be dismissed rather than rewarded.”

Employees could even calculate how much redundancy they were eligible to but now fear the terms will be less generous when the inevitable job cuts happen.

Employees who have have been weighing up whether to accept the voluntary redundancy offer for the last two months were left dumbfounded by the reversal.

One employee, who did not want to be named, said: “I’ve had so many sleepless nights about this, I love my job but it seemed like the right time to get out, I’d planned to use my redundancy to retrain, now all that has been taken away from me.

“They are playing with people’s lives.”