4 Mar 2011

Hide blamed for blowout in merger redundancy cost

11:16 am on 4 March 2011

The Labour Party is blaming Local Government Minister Rodney Hide for the unexpectedly high cost of local body redundancies in Auckland.

Newly released figures show that the cost of hundreds of layoffs at eight councils last November, as they were merged to form the Auckland Council, was $27.6 million - at least $6 million more than forecast.

The agency that carried out the amalgamation had forecast a range of $15 million to $20 million.

Labour's Auckland issues spokesperson, Phil Twyford, says Mr Hide's cost-cutting approach to the amalgamation has caused problems for the Auckland Council.

Mr Twyford says the council is now recruiting for more than 500 positions, which clearly means that the cuts to staffing last year went too far.

Mr Hide calls it a surprising sum, and says it could go back to poor-quality information from the outgoing council chiefs.

He says he does not know whether the problem has come because of the level of payments or the actual number of redundancies.

The number of confirmed redundancies is 238 but not all councils have revealed how many people were laid off.