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Tories demand answers over payroll blunders
11:30am Tuesday 30th October 2012 in News
THE Conservatives say they are appalled at what they call a lack of action over the council’s expensive payroll blunders.
Tory councillor for Stanford-le-Hope West, Shane Hebb, asked for an update on what action had been taken following an internal audit report in July which revealed the wrong overtime rates were being paid, and pay rises were given to staff still on probation.
It also revealed the Labour run authority paid out £1.7million in compromise agreements to 84 staff members it no longer needed in 2011.
Phil Smith, Labour’s cabinet member for central services, said: “This report was actually sent to the scrutiny committee, the scrutiny committee has put forward a number of recommendations which have been implemented and are in the process of going through.
“We are also going to carry out an internal audit shortly to ensure that all those recommendations have been carried out. "
Cllr Hebb called the response “vague” and added: “What does an audit tell us?
“An audit tells us where we are at, my question tonight is what have we done?
“No one has yet answered.”
Cllr Smith replied the authority was paying overtime rates are nationally agreed, and was giving probationers “nominal increases” which he said were not excessive.
He then accused the opposition of having a “hang-up” about compromise agreements, and claimed audit reports “went missing” when they were in charge.
He added: “I think you’ll find the amount that we actually paid out in compromise agreements is substantially less than what was paid out un your administration.
“We know there’s been some mistakes, we’re actually following a lot of procedures put in place by the previous administration, which we now know are failing, so we have now put in place items to correct those failures.”
Speaking after the meeting, cllr Hebb said: “Paying staff money that is not due to them is simply a waste of our local council tax money.
“I would have hoped that in light of the highly critical audit report, Labour’s cabinet member would be able to reassure cllrs and residents alike that steps are being taken to address the issue.
“Alas, this seems to be beyond the administration.”