Chairman Says It’s Not Certain Council Will Have To Pay For Untaken Leave

town hall windows signThe Chairman of the Council says it’s not a forgone conclusion that the authority will have to pay out up to £21,000 to former employees claiming for untaken leave.

Cllr Amanda Martin took issue with the wording in the authority’s Statement of Accounts, which say it’s “probable” that payment will be required. Councillors discussed the annual financial report at the Full Council meeting on Monday.

Amanda said she wanted the report tweaked to use the wording “could be required” instead.

She said the legal case hadn’t been settled yet and it was wrong to prejudge the outcome.

Finance Officer Sarah Chodkiewicz said the statement had been written by the Council’s own legal officer and didn’t make any commitment on the Council to pay up.

But she added that if the outcome had been “less certain” they wouldn’t have put provision in the accounts for it and it was “very likely” that they will have to pay up.

The report also said there was contingency for more legal action that’s likely to be taken against the Council but the amount couldn’t be estimated yet.

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough said they needed to assume the worst-case scenario and make provision to cover the possible financial consequences.

He wanted the authority’s General Reserves, which currently stand at just over £600,000, to be increased.

Gordon was also concerned that one-off grants are still being used to support services, citing the current £125,000 used to employ someone to implement the government’s Care Bill.

He said they’d fallen foul of this in the past, with employees having to be funded from revenue once their grant had expired.

Sarah Chodkiewicz said fixed term contracts were now being used which meant workers would leave after that period.

Cllr David Pearson expressed concern that £40,000 worth of debts owed to the authority had been written off in the last year, although Cllr Richard McCarthy pointed out that these were likely to involve bankruptcy or companies that had gone into liquidation and couldn’t be pursued.

The report concludes that the Council’s long term budget deficit needs to be addressed in order to make its services sustainable after 2015.

So far, one-off savings have been used to tackle the shortfall.

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