EDUCATION chiefs in Carmarthenshire are working with schools to trim redundancy and retirement costs for teachers and support staff.

For the last five years the council’s education department has over-spent on early retirement and voluntary redundancy costs by as much as £846,000.

This financial year its £1.8 million budget looks like it will be £300,000 short.

Gareth Morgans, director of education and children’s services, told a scrutiny committee: “It is an element of the budget that concerns us.”

He said much of the annual budget was tied to early retirement and voluntary redundancy cases which had already been agreed, meaning that only £100,000 was available for new ones in the current year.

He added: “It is unlikely that this budget is going to reduce over the next few years.”

Carmarthenshire currently has 1,573 teachers and 2,307 support staff.

The education department advises school governing bodies on workforce matters, but recruitment and termination decisions are taken by schools. Early retirement and voluntary redundancy costs are then borne by the authority.

This method saves councils everywhere money in the long term but they can be liable for teacher pension contributions for many years. Carmarthenshire chiefs are keen to promote phased retirement for teachers aged over 55 because there is no cost to the employer. They also want to incentivise schools to receive re-deployed staff, and charge schools for premature retirement costs in cases where prior written agreement has not been given by the authority.

The report before the education and children scrutiny committee also said it might be possible to reduce teachers’ payments at retirement or redundancy in line with non-school based staff, and that further negotiation would take place with teaching unions to explore this.

Mr Morgans said the education department had been funding the annual overspend, and that only a “very small number” of secondary school teachers had been successfully redeployed in the last two or three years.

“We’ve been a bit more successful (re-deploying) with support staff — probably 10 out of 20,” he said.

Image: StFX [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

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