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Mar 04 2013

Bob Says: Harrow Council spends £660,000 paying suspended staff

bob_blackmanBob Blackman MP has revealed that Harrow Council has spent over £660,000 on paying the salaries of suspended members of staff. The figures, representing suspensions between April 2009 and February 2012, show that 97 members of staff have been suspended in total.

One council employee received £44,000 whilst on suspension for gross-misconduct. The investigation lasted for 284 days and resulted in the employee’s dismissal. Similarly, another employee was paid £16,000 during a suspension which lasted 176 days. The investigation also resulted in a dismissal.

In total, 25 members of staff over the period were dismissed following a period of suspension. The total cost of covering their salaries during this time amounted to over £260,000. A further 14 investigations resulted in staff receiving final written warnings.

These figures come on top of an investigation by the Evening Standard which revealed that Harrow Council had paid one employee £137,000 during a suspension lasting nearly three years – the highest amount to any single employee in the whole of London.

Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East, said: ‘At a time when the Labour run council is making huge cuts to public services and increasing Council Tax by 2%, this represents extraordinarily bad value-for-money for every Harrow taxpayer. It is utterly ridiculous that the council is taking, in some cases, nearly one year to process an individual case. Harrow Council has many questions to answer, particularly as to the costs of paying external staff to cover the periods of suspension’.

[pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]Harrow Council had paid one employee £137,000 during a suspension lasting nearly three years[/pullquote]In the financial year of 2009/10 23 members of staff were suspended at cost of £99,000. The average length of each suspension numbered 80 days. The current financial year shows an increase in these figures as 36 members of staff have been suspended. This has, to date, cost £233,000 with the average suspension time standing at 88 days.

Bob Blackman noted that these figures show that: ‘The problem is getting progressively worse rather than better. Suspensions are up by nearly a third; costs have more than doubled; and the length of time to handle them has increased. Harrow Council clearly has no control over the situation and no clear policy to tackle the problem.’

Source: Bob Blackman, MP

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