Embedding Sustainable Development: The Government’s response

Supplementary written evidence submitted by Defra

Note on the position of SDC staff

Approximately 60 staff were working for the SDC at the time of the July announcement. The majority had left by 31 March 2011 either because they were on secondment to the SDC from another organisation, had reached the end of their contract, found another role outside Government, taken voluntary redundancy, or transferred under COSOP (Cabinet Office Statement of Practice) terms into Defra or to Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB).

Two staff were on secondment from Defra and will return to the Department. A further four SDC staff were offered transfers into Defra, of whom two accepted and joined the sustainable development unit on 1 April 2011. Two staff declined the transfer offer, and, as agreed with the trade unions, we offered two alternative roles working on sustainable development policy which we ring-fenced for SDC staff as a redundancy mitigation measure. No SDC staff applied for the roles. Three SDC staff were offered transfers into KSB, two of whom accepted, and two staff were offered transfers into the Welsh Assembly Government, neither of whom accepted.

24 SDC employees remained in post on Monday 28 March and 22 of those were issued with Compulsory Redundancy Notices on that day for departure on Thursday 31 March. Permanent employees will receive compensation in lieu of their six month notice period (CILON) (fixed term employees will receive three months CILON) plus compensation in line with Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS) terms.

The remaining two employees (the Director of Corporate Resources Manager and the Head of HR) have been deemed business critical to the administrative closure of SDC Ltd and we have agreed with them to delay issuing their notices for one and two months respectively so that they still receive six months CILON and are not at a financial disadvantage as compared to other SDC staff. The SDC Head of Finance is a Defra secondee and will continue in her role until the SDC final accounts have been prepared and audited, which we expect to be by July.

As a final redundancy mitigation measure and at the request of the unions, Defra agreed that permanent SDC staff with SD policy experience who were not in scope for either a transfer into Defra or to apply for one of the two ring-fenced roles would be offered the opportunity to apply for other roles in Defra until the end of May if they wished. Three staff were in scope for this, one of whom has accepted. The other two declined and departed to the same timescale as the other SDC staff.

We estimate that the total cost of winding up the SDC will be c£1.25m, of which c£900k will be spent on compulsory redundancies and c£200k on voluntary redundancies. The remainder is other costs, such as the salaries of the business critical staff staying on to effect the administrative closure.

11 April 2011