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Cash-strapped council approves more redundancies

Somerset Council in Taunton
Somerset Council is looking to save millions to avoid a financial emergency [BBC]

A cash-strapped council has approved a further 49 voluntary redundancies.

More than 350 people applied for voluntary redundancy at Somerset Council earlier this year, with 201 of those accepted, and 49 having to be ratified by councillors due to their pay awards being worth more than £100,000.

The roles being made redundant include the council's current chief finance officer and the director of public health.

Those posts hold responsibilities the council is legally required to have, but the authority said they will be subsumed into different roles in the council's restructure.

The voluntary redundancies, including those which did not need formal approval, will save the council more than £8m a year.

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Somerset Council said it had a budget gap of more than £100m to bridge at the start of the year.

The redundancies will cost it a one-off sum of £12.84m, with the organisation saying it will take less than two years to see a saving.

'Difficult and heartbreaking'

The people who are let go will only receive payments set out within their contracts.

Eventually, the council is looking to cut its staff force by around a quarter.

Councillor Bill Revans, the Liberal Democrat leader of Somerset Council, previously said: "We had to make many difficult and heartbreaking decisions to set our budget this year, and that included plans for a top-to-bottom restructure of our council.

"We have always been clear about our position and it is essential that we make the tough choices to ensure our council is financially viable."

The council has also considered cutting services, such as CCTV operation and recycling centres, in an attempt to balance the books.

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