Council workers paid millions while suspended

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SCOTS council workers suspended over a property repairs scandal were paid an “astonishing” £1.5million, it has been revealed.

The sum has been paid out to Edinburgh Council employees since the first suspension in October 2010, with a report into the affair costing a further £2million.

Six staff at the council’s property conservation and property care departments remain suspended on full pay, and a report by consultancy firm Deloitte was finished in March.

 

Councils have been accussed of pushing final bills up twenty times more than the actual price

 

 

Residents complained of being charged thousands of pounds for unnecessary repairs in the scandal, which has seen 11 staff sacked.

At least 17 staff have been suspended over the scandal since it emerged in 2010, though others may have resigned or retired.

Police and accountants have been investigating work carried out under the statutory notice system, which allows the council to order mandatory work on private buildings.

Contractors have also been accused of pushing up final bills by as much as 20 times the original estimate.

A source at the council said: “The fact this amount has been spent on wages for suspended staff, many of whom have now been sacked or look to be sacked, is quite astounding.

“It is no secret that this disciplinary process has taken longer than was initially thought, but every day these people are suspended costs the public.”

The Deloitte report into the scandal remains private, with the council concerned of the legal implications of making the report public.

In the property care department, 15 people have been charged with offences including fraud, corruption and money laundering.

These include five contractors, four employees and six of their associates.

A spokesman for Edinburgh council said: “The seriousness of the allegations justified the use of an external investigation team.

“All of our suspensions were precautionary, with no presumption of wrongdoing.

“In those circumstances, it is right that staff continue to be paid and the council is legally obliged to do that.”

MSP Sarah Boyack said the situation was “astonishing”.

She said: “We clearly need to have a resolution to the police inquiry and the internal council discipline issue.

“But while all that happens , every single day somebody in the city needs assistance with getting communal repairs carried out.

“We can’t sit here waiting until the police and the discipline issues are dealt with, we need to see the council clearly setting out how they are going to fix this problem.”

 

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