Top cop receives pension payout and returns to the same job 24 hours later

February 17, 2012 3:30 PM

Another week, another highly-paid public sector worker returns to work after supposedly retiring with a massive pension payout. John Geates, a police chief, has resumed his role as Director of the Scottish Police College in Fife just 24 hours after leaving with a £300,000 lump sum. Mr Geates (aged 49) will also be entitled to an annual pension of over £55,000 a year when he turns 55. Even then, he will still be able to continue his job on full pay. And all of this apparently on top of a taxpayer-funded residence in Tulliallan Castle.

Such convoluted and scandalous arrangements are not unusual in the public sector. Often the problem lies with mismanaged redundancy schemes. In October 2011, it was revealed that a series of NHS executives had accepted large severance payments only to be reemployed on short-term contracts, often costing more than £1,000 per day. Also in October 2011, Stoke-on-Trent Council paid out £330,000 in redundancy payments to 25 staff and then rehired them in new jobs. But a variation on Geates’ retirement arrangement is also widespread. It was estimated in June 2010 that 10,000 public sector workers are paid a pension on top of their salary, a practice derided as double-dipping.

The rationale behind these schemes is often to save taxpayers’ money. Geates got £300,000 because his role has been ‘civilianised’ to save £22,000 a year. But the public sector is not always careful that cost savings are well-planned or well-executed. The Government claims that it takes this seriously and Eric Pickles has promised a crackdown on the practice of double-dipping, but the Geates example suggests that not enough has been done.

These shady pension arrangements are unfair and they lack transparency. Geates was immediately reemployed by the Scottish Police College, his position was not advertised, and no other candidates were interviewed. It may be true that he was the best person for the job, but taxpayers will want to know that a proper process was followed and that this deal was not stitched up behind closed doors.

It’s similarly unfair that some highly-paid public officials can receive full pensions at only 55. Public sector workers are already significantly better paid on average than those in the private sector and they get substantial taxpayer contributions to their pensions. Most taxpayers could never dream of retiring as early as 55.

Furthermore, it is morally wrong that public sector workers should seek to maximise their financial gain at the expense of ordinary taxpayers. In the face of necessary spending cuts, Geates and his like are leeching away money that could go towards more frontline police or a helpful tax cut. As Director of Scotland’s leading police training centre, Geates should set a better example to his recruits.Another week, another highly-paid public sector worker returns to work after supposedly retiring with a massive pension payout. John Geates, a police chief, has resumed his role as Director of the Scottish Police College in Fife just 24 hours after leaving with a £300,000 lump sum. Mr Geates (aged 49) will also be entitled to an annual pension of over £55,000 a year when he turns 55. Even then, he will still be able to continue his job on full pay. And all of this apparently on top of a taxpayer-funded residence in Tulliallan Castle.

Such convoluted and scandalous arrangements are not unusual in the public sector. Often the problem lies with mismanaged redundancy schemes. In October 2011, it was revealed that a series of NHS executives had accepted large severance payments only to be reemployed on short-term contracts, often costing more than £1,000 per day. Also in October 2011, Stoke-on-Trent Council paid out £330,000 in redundancy payments to 25 staff and then rehired them in new jobs. But a variation on Geates’ retirement arrangement is also widespread. It was estimated in June 2010 that 10,000 public sector workers are paid a pension on top of their salary, a practice derided as double-dipping.

The rationale behind these schemes is often to save taxpayers’ money. Geates got £300,000 because his role has been ‘civilianised’ to save £22,000 a year. But the public sector is not always careful that cost savings are well-planned or well-executed. The Government claims that it takes this seriously and Eric Pickles has promised a crackdown on the practice of double-dipping, but the Geates example suggests that not enough has been done.

These shady pension arrangements are unfair and they lack transparency. Geates was immediately reemployed by the Scottish Police College, his position was not advertised, and no other candidates were interviewed. It may be true that he was the best person for the job, but taxpayers will want to know that a proper process was followed and that this deal was not stitched up behind closed doors.

It’s similarly unfair that some highly-paid public officials can receive full pensions at only 55. Public sector workers are already significantly better paid on average than those in the private sector and they get substantial taxpayer contributions to their pensions. Most taxpayers could never dream of retiring as early as 55.

Furthermore, it is morally wrong that public sector workers should seek to maximise their financial gain at the expense of ordinary taxpayers. In the face of necessary spending cuts, Geates and his like are leeching away money that could go towards more frontline police or a helpful tax cut. As Director of Scotland’s leading police training centre, Geates should set a better example to his recruits.

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