Staff costs at County Hall have been slashed dramatically over the past five years.

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The news comes as the county authority strives to save cash.

Devon County Council’s overall staff costs have fallen from just under one third of the authority’s overall budget to well below a quarter.

New figures show that staff costs accounted for 32 per cent of the budget in 2009-10. In the current financial year they will account for 24 per cent, and in 2014-15 they will fall again to 23.5 per cent.

Devon now has 4,599 full-time employees.

County council leader John Hart said: “These new figures, which have been produced as part of our budget process, demonstrate that we have kept our promises.

“We have looked at every area of our work in an effort to reduce costs to the residents of Devon.”

He said a jobs freeze had led to employee numbers falling by almost 3,000, thereby avoiding the need for large-scale redundancies.

He added: We also cut our management costs dramatically. We don’t have middle managers reporting to senior managers now.

“We’ve slimmed down the organisation and made it easier for our front-line staff to get on with their jobs without constantly referring decisions upwards. We’ve introduced partnership working with other authorities to maintain services but cut bureaucracy and administration costs such as our link-up with Somerset County Council to provide trading services.

“And we have entered into effective joint partnership agreements with organisations such as Devon Norse to provide cleaning and catering services and Babcock LDP to provide support services for our schools.”

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