Council’s £10m pay to sick staff


By Alessandro Brunelli


Councillor Mark Hood said the figure showed a lack of leadership from the council

A SCOTS council has paid more than £10 million to sick workers in just nine months.

Fife Council forked out more than £1m a month to absent staff between April and December last year.

But the true figure could be even higher as the figure doesn’t take into account money paid to workers brought in to cover staff shortages.

Today one of the authority’s own councillors hit out at the figure, saying it showed a “lack of leadership” from the current administration.

Fife Labour’s finance spokesman Mark Hood called for “a more detailed analysis of the frequency and nature of the absences in order to understand what is going on and what needs to be done”.

He also referred to a “much deeper problem” at Fife Council, and while he made clear that good employers don’t turn their back on their workers, he eventually attacked the SNP-Lib Dem coalition that runs the council, accusing it of failing to “take responsibility for the big challenges that go with the territory of running a council.”

Hood also stated that Labour would make the issue a priority if back in power.

Following Hood’s accusations, Fife Council’s depute Leader Elizabeth Riches hit back saying that there was a lack of Labour presence at meetings where issues of absences were analysed.

According to Riches, the issue had been reported to the main policy committee in the Annual Performance Overview for the past four years.

With an equally strong criticism against the activity of the local Labour party, she said that “despite the chance to discuss these in some depth, the opportunity has never been fully taken up by Labour members of the policy, finance and asset and management committee where the information is provided.”

She finally added that “Cosla (Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities) is aware of the issue of absence and is currently undertaking a survey to develop more effective strategies including sick pay itself.”