COUNCILLORS are being recommended to approve 49 redundancies next week as the first part of a programme to save Somerset Council more than £40m a year.

Somerset Council is one of many local authorities nationally facing a financial emergency due to the rising costs of providing essential services like social care.

In setting a budget for 2024/25, members endorsed a new vision for a leaner, more productive council and agreed to save around £40m from the pay bill by reducing the number of staff and managers, including senior directors, by around 25 per cent.

The first step is a voluntary redundancy scheme, which has now concluded with 201 applications accepted.

These redundancies will save the council more than £8m a year.

The total cost of all the redundancies will be a one-off sum of £12.842m and will reduce the annual pay bill by £8.204m, meaning a pay-back period of less than two years.

As the cost will be met from capital funds, as approved by Government, the pay bill reduction will start as soon as the post is removed.

At full council on 22 May, councillors will be recommended to approve redundancy for 49 posts where costs to the council will exceed £100,000 (including pension strain payments).

In all cases, staff will receive only the amounts they are contractually entitled to receive.

Cllr Bill Revans, leader of Somerset Council, said: “We had to make many difficult and heartbreaking decisions to set our budget this year, and that included plans for a top-to-bottom restructure of our council.

“We have always been clear about our position and it is essential that we make the tough choices to ensure our Council is financially viable.

“The financial cost is in line with the legal terms and conditions of the post holders, no more, no less.

“This is the first step and we know there will be further changes and reductions in staff numbers coming through over the next 12 months as we look to find over £40m of savings from our pay bill.”