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Transport for London’s (TfL) priorities are fundamentally off the rails. Last week we revealed that 138 TfL employees have been languishing in a ‘redeployment unit’, where redundant staff continue to be paid a salary while bosses attempt to find a new job for them. Rather than make them redundant, they are retained in the unit at considerable cost to taxpayers

We estimated that keeping 138 employees on the payroll from 2004 to 2011 cost in excess of £3.5 million based on salary bands they provided.
TfL define the scheme as “a unit for employees who have been displaced and transferred prior to securing an alternative role in TfL or leaving the organisation.” They stress that the maximum time an employee can be in the unit is four months, or 120 days. However, in many cases employees are on the scheme for much longer. Astonishingly, 19 employees were on the unit for more than 500 days, which is likely to have cost more than £1.2 million. This represents over a third of their total spend on the unit.

Earlier this year we also discovered a similar scheme in operation at Royal Mail. In 2009-10 they had more than 287 ‘surplus’ employees, whose annual salaries we estimated cost taxpayers £8 million a year. The previous year was even worse:  458 employees on the scheme with salary costs estimated at £13 million. Despite Royal Mail’s policy that employees don’t remain on the scheme for long, their own figures showed that 2 employees were on the scheme for nearly 70 months, or 6 years! 53 more employees were on the scheme for over 20 months.

Both TfL and Royal Mail have formal guidelines managing their surplus staff policies. However, these are redundant if they’re ignored. It’s hard to imagine any reasonable excuse for waste of this kind. If jobs have been made redundant then staff should be made redundant too. While similar policies may exist elsewhere, it is utterly unacceptable when taxpayers are left to pick up the bill.

Our supporters have alerted us to other public bodies with they claim have similar policies, namely the Prison Service and the Civil Service. Others have remarked that it is common and thus hardly surprising news. But this approach completely misses the point. With such pressure on public finances, taxpayer funded organisations must make a concerted effort to squeeze value out of every penny. Staffing costs are often the heaviest financial burden on any organisation even without paying for additional employees who aren’t even doing any work.

This scheme is an unnecessary and costly burden on taxpayers and one which shouldn’t have escalated to this stage. Many will wonder whether it is just a coincidence that both Royal Mail and TfL are heavily influenced by powerful trade unions.TfL and Royal Mail are now in the process of dismantling their scheme and this is welcome news. They are making decisions to deal with their finances so let’s hope their surplus staff schemes are disbanded entirely. Other public sector organisations that operate a similar scheme should do the same. The public finances are in a mess and non-job employees are an unnecessary and unaffordable drain we simply cannot afford. They must all go if we are to deliver the growth the economy needs to get back on track.


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Written by Chris Daniel   
Tuesday, 04 October 2011 08:32
Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 October 2011 08:35

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