By Matthew Barrett
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A report (pdf) from the TaxPayers' Alliance released today reveals that 1,328 Midlands council staff have been suspended for a total of 419 years since 2009, costing taxpayers £8.2 million.
If these figures were replicated nationally, in line with the spending power of Councils in the Midlands, the TPA estimates that since April 2009 7,852 staff would have been suspended for a total of 594,816 days, or almost 2,500 working years.
The suspended members of staff have been on full pay, and the average suspension lasts 76 days.
The worst-offending councils include:
- Leicester City Council, who paid out the most in salaries to suspended staff at almost £1.5 million for 107 incidents.
- Nottinghamshire Council had 167 cases of suspension since April 2009, the highest in the Midlands.
- 78 employees across the Midlands were suspended on full pay for more than 12 months.
- A manager on over £67,000 a year at Newark and Sherwood Council was suspended for 77 days before leaving the authority.
- An employee of Leicester City Council on a salary of £48,642 was suspended for 872 days. The total wages paid during suspension was in excess of £176,000. This was the largest amount paid during suspension.
- An employee at Lincolnshire Council on a salary of almost £65,000 a year received over £140,000 during a suspension of 523 days, before being dismissed.
- An employee of Nottingham City Council was suspended for 950 days – almost four years.
Six councils refused to provide any information, twelve did not provide salary details, one did not respond to the TPA's request, and two did not record requested details of any suspended staff.
In 876 cases, the outcome was disclosed. Of these, 47% left the organisation, 45% were retained and 8% of cases are on-going. At least 21 cases across the Midlands resulted in criminal charges. Of these, 18 members of staff did not continue in their employment, and were paid over £170,000 while suspended.
Of the 1,328 recorded cases of suspension, two were for sleeping whilst on duty and two for having other employment whilst on sick leave from the council. A further 15 cases were for theft including theft from service users and one incident of theft from the council and misuse of a council vehicle.
There were nine recorded cases of sexual misconduct, assault and/or harassment. There were an additional 13 cases of assault and two involving violence. There was also one alleged kidnap.
Matthew Sinclair, Director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:
"Taxpayers will be shocked that so many employees were paid for months on end whilst suspended and waiting for a decision about their future. This isn't good for taxpayers, the council or the individual involved. Local authorities must ensure that action is taken and suspensions are dealt with swiftly and cases don't drag on, leaving taxpayers picking up the bill for staff who are off work for long periods and temps to cover their absence."