Sunday, March 29, 2009

Scottish Parliament staff beat credit crunch with £1.5m pay-off deal

No signs of any credit crunch or financial meltdown at the costly $1billion Scottish Parliament as the Sunday Herald reveals a mere 8 members of staff are up for a massive £1.5m pay-off after one of the 8 (Carol Devon) recommended management cuts, including her own post, which netted Devon up to £270,000 (sounds like we all should be working at Holyrood ! – Ed)

The Sunday Herald reports :

Holyrood boss under fire as eight staff share £1.5m pay-off

By Paul Hutcheon

HOLYROOD CHIEF EXECUTIVE PAUL Grice has been criticised after eight senior parliament staff shared an early retirement pot of at least £1.5 million. The deal is worth the equivalent of £190,000 for each of the Holyrood bosses.

The redundancy round was sparked after Grice accepted recommendations from his colleague Carol Devon to cut the number of senior management posts. Devon ended up as the main beneficiary of the plan after her application for redundancy landed her up to £270,000.

Holyrood's head of personnel Ian Macnicol, head of security Bill Anderson and Ian Perry, head of the external liaison unit, all negotiated deals. Patsy Richards, head of the parliament information centre, and three clerk team leaders will also benefit.

These seven include two employees at grade seven, who earn up to £71,327, and five at grade six, whose salary reaches £58,022. Devon's salary, according to parliament accounts, came in at up to £95,000.

The £1.5m is a combination of lump sums and pension payments. If Devon's sum is taken out of the equation, the seven others stand to benefit from an average gain of £175,000. The Sunday Herald understands one of the seven had a short length of service and is unlikely to have received a large sum.

The payments have led to criticism of Grice, who approved the early retirement applications, although the parliament insists the plans will yield savings. Grice has already been rebuked over his role in the cost overruns surrounding the Holyrood project.

The payments raise further questions about public-sector bodies paying out hundreds of thousands of pounds to senior staff in pay-offs. North Lanarkshire Council has spent almost £2m on early retirement and severance since 2007, while Scottish Enterprise (SE) paid over £20m in lump sums. Within that total, four individuals received severance lump sums of over £250,000.

Glasgow City Council paid almost £19m in similar deals, while NHS Lothian confirmed spending around £1.3m in redundancy payments since 2007.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "At a time when many taxpayers are having to postpone their own retirement, or have seen their private pension reduced out of recognition, these pay-outs are totally unjustifiable. Mr Grice has some serious questions to answer."

John Wilson, an SNP MSP for Central Scotland, said: "While large sections of the workforce are concerned about their future, senior parliament staff are leaving with golden goodbyes prior to their normal retirement age. No doubt they will end up on other public bodies, picking up other salaries."

A parliament spokesman confirmed that £1.5m had been allocated for eight staff, adding: "The full expectation is that the team changes will pay for themselves within five years and thereafter deliver annual savings."

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