The number of boomerang council staff, who were made redundant and later re-employed, has now grown into double figures.

In January, the Wimbledon Guardian revealed five laid-off Merton Council employees had found new jobs as highly paid consultants, after £178,000 was spent laying them off.

Now it is understood a further five staff have been re-employed – three of them on a permanent basis – making it 10 overall since May 2010.

The latest figures show that, in the same period, Merton made 189 staff redundant and awarded exit packages totalling just under £3.5m.

The majority of those made redundant, 119, received a settlement of up to £20,000 while 46 staff received between £20,000 and £40,000.

Councillor Richard Hilton, Merton Conservatives’ environment spokesman, obtained the data and said “the whole thing stinks of financial incompetence”.

He said: “This is unacceptable and just wouldn’t happen in the private sector – we are paying people to leave and then paying even more to hire them back again.

“It is very disappointing the council didn’t even have an official policy on rehiring staff until four days after I asked them whether they had one.”

It also emerged that one particularly controversial boomerang boss is set to end her consultancy role as an interim assistant director of business improvement.

Jo Williams, Merton’s former head of housing, was re-appointed as a freelance after the head of human resources, Dean Shoesmith, claimed he could “push Ged [Curran, the chief executive]” to pay her more than the minimum rate for external consultants of £500 a day.

Her contract will end in October now that Merton has appointed a permanent assistant director.

Councillor Mark Allison, Merton’s cabinet member for finance, said: “It’s depressing to hear such right-wing nastiness from local Tories.

“Their Government’s cuts mean we’re having to make hundreds of hard-working people redundant.

“If they now want to stop those people getting different jobs months later it shows how much contempt they have for people who work hard to deliver services to local people.”