Yet another big town hall payoff

With all too sad regularity, we at the TPA comment on egregious pay-offs for those leaving extremely well paid posts in the public sector – people whose remuneration packages are entirely funded by us taxpayers.

And today another example of another obscene golden goodbye has hit our radar. But this time, for me, it’s personal.

The Surrey Comet brings news of the severance package of one Bruce McDonald, who resigned last month as Chief Executive of Kingston Council in South West London.

Mr McDonald will receive a £267,512 lump sum pay-out, which includes his notice period pay, plus his pension, equivalent to half his £178,341 annual salary. As part of the settlement Mr McDonald has signed a non-disclosure agreement - meaning he cannot talk to the press about his reasons for leaving.

I happen to live in Kingston so we are talking about what is happening to the money I and my neighbours pay in Council Tax, expecting it to be spent on essential local services.

My Council Tax bill this year (for a Band D property) is £1,673.97 (of which £295 goes to the GLA). So literally all the cash that I and 193 of my neighbours have paid to the Council in 2015-16 has been blown on this one man’s exit package. Or to put it another way, if I and two of my neighbours live in Kingston for the entirety of our adult lives, we three households will see our entire lifetime Council Tax bill spent funding this single deal.

As I tell the Comet:

This is an extraordinary sum of taxpayers' money for yet another bloated public sector golden goodbye. On top of massive salaries, the top brass at local authorities can expect to see redundancy or resignation packages that are far more generous than many workers in the private sector can ever expect to receive. Taxpayers don't want to see their hard-earned cash funding executive pay-offs at a time when they are seeing their essential services come under threat.

We keep hearing from ministers that the Government will crack down on the awarding of these kinds of eye-watering payments, but what action are they actually going to take?

It certainly strikes me that the terms of employment for those at the highest echelons of the public sector need to be reviewed so that taxpayers don’t get left on the hook for unjustifiably high pay-offs. This is particularly important to bear in mind as local government is going to be subject to further streamlining in the coming years and the number of senior bureaucrats on six-figure salaries reduced.

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