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50 staff go after £300m Sandwell Council contract collapse

Sandwell | News | Published:

More than 50 people took voluntary redundancy from Sandwell Council following the collapse of a £300 million BT contract.

The authority left its planned 15-year partnership with BT, called Transform Sandwell, nine years early after the deal ended last March.

In total 333 staff who had worked on the scheme had been transferred from BT to Sandwell Council following the end of the contract.

Council bosses now say of these employees, 51 have now taken voluntary redundancy as part of 'internal re-structures'.

The deal was signed in 2007, and saw the council pay a fixed £15m a year to BT for the management of services.

These included finance, customer contact and communication and there was another element of variable charges for work done for third parties such as schools.

Council leader Councillor Darren Cooper, said that after the re-structure the authority had been able to save £500,000 a year but this could rise.

"We have brought these services back in house now and we need to invest in things like Cloud technology," he said.

"We are already looking at savings of £500,000 but this could become more like £2m in time."

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Sandwell Council chief executive, Melanie Dudley, said: "The council made an agreement with BT to end the contract early.

"Details of this cannot be disclosed due to commercial confidentiality. The contract ended on March 31 2014.

"There were no redundancies as a direct result of employees transferring back into the council.

"Of the 333 employees who transferred to the council from Transform Sandwell, 51 have since taken voluntary redundancy as part of internal restructures.

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"These were not solely due to transferring back but followed full service reviews and reflect the council's priority to protect frontline services.

"There have been no compulsory redundancies."

The move comes after Sandwell Council this week made a 'Jobs Promise' that it will not make any more compulsory redundancies during the next two years.

Hundreds of workers have been laid off by the council in recent years amid massive cuts in funding from central government.

But council leader Councillor Darren Cooper said while previous job cuts had been 'inevitable' the new agreement would also save cash as well as improve morale among workers.

UNISON, Unite the Union and the GMB union have been involved with discussions after officials said they had been 'frustrated' by the council's 'failure to avoid the need for redundancies to take place'.

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