£1m spent by Hertfordshire County Council on ‘golden goodbyes’ to staff, figures reveal
PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 March 2015
‘Golden goodbyes’ totalling nearly £1million were paid to leaving employees by Herts County Council.
The authority defended the payments and refused to reveal further details on the cash handouts, such as what they were paid for or who they were handed to.
The revelation came to light after the Welwyn Hatfield Times sought out the information under the Freedom of Information Act.
This newspaper asked County Hall to provide details of all compromise agreements made with county council staff from January 8, 2010 to January 8, 2015.
Our request also stipulated the response “should include the number of members of staff who have agreed compromise agreements and the total cost of the agreements”.
While admitting the total cost of the agreements over five years was £945,362, to 62 ex-employees, the council hid behind data protection rules over who was paid and for what.
The response read: “After consideration the county council has decided that to provide a further breakdown of this information should be withheld.”
It added: “The disclosure of this information would contravene the first [exemption], data protection, as to provide such a breakdown would make it possible to identify the individuals concerned.”
The authority claimed the payments were not used “as a prevention of whistle-blowing”.
Andy Silvester, campaign director of pressure group the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The total compensation figure for these ‘golden goodbyes’ is eye-catching enough but taxpayers deserve to know why their money was used like this.
“Transparency must be the watchword whenever a penny of hard-working local residents’ cash is dished out because of these agreements.”
A county council spokeswoman said: “The council workforce has reduced from 11,200 in 2010 to approximately 8,400 in 2015 so any such agreements are an extremely small proportion of the workforce.
“Hertfordshire County Council uses compromise agreements only in those circumstances where it is the most appropriate method of ending someone’s employment.
“While the circumstances will vary from case to case, most, if not all, agreements will contain confidentiality clauses.”
She added: “This is standard practice for most employers.”
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