MPs debate changes to civil service redundancy scheme

The long-running dispute over planned changes to redundancy terms for civil servants reached a key stage today when proposed legislation was debated by MPs during its second reading in the House of Commons.

Under proposals contained in The Superannuation Bill, payoffs for civil servants would be capped at one year’s salary or 15 months’ for voluntary redundancies. At present, civil servants can get three years’ salary, with those recruited before 1987 entitled to as much as six years’.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has fiercely opposed any changes to the civil service redundancy scheme and was successful in a High Court challenge to the previous Government’s plans to overhaul the system earlier this year. It is urging the coalition to abandon the Bill and reached an agreed settlement.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This Bill is deeply unfair and was introduced without any consultation or negotiation. It is being rushed through simply to make it easier and cheaper for the Government to make tens of thousands of its own workforce redundant. We believe the Bill should be abandoned and proper negotiations opened to allow us to reach a fair settlement that protects existing members’ rights, as upheld by the High Court.”

But Miles Templeton, director general of the Institute of Directors, insisted that there is “no alternative” to changing the redundancy scheme.

“Legislation to cap redundancy payouts is imperative for two reasons,” he said. “First, in order to bring the public sector more in line with the private sector. Second to avoid the ridiculous situation whereby the budget deficit sharply increased as a result of downsizing the public sector. At the end of the day, even with the new cap, public sector redundancy terms remain generous.”

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