Revealed: Hampshire councils paid out almost £3m in three years to ex-employees

COUNCILS across Hampshire have paid out almost £3m in the last three years on settlements to employees, new data has revealed.

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 11:27 am
Councils in Hampshire paid out around £3m to former employees between 2016 and 2019. Picture: Maris Cashill

Local authorities for Portsmouth, Hampshire, Gosport and Fareham spent £2,904,362.34 between 2016 and 2019 on payments to ex-employees to 'settle disputes.'

Freedom of information requests submitted by the Taxpayers' Alliance showed that councils across the UK approved at least 6,980 settlement agreements in that time, worth more than £98m.

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Darwin Friend, researcher at the Taxpayers' Alliance, had concerns about the cost to members of the public. He said: 'Though settlement agreements are sometimes necessary, councils need to remember that it's ratepayers who foot the bill.

'These settlements have been signed at the same time that the vast majority of local authorities have increased council tax, meaning some have spent huge sums on hush money while hiking up local rates.

'Given that almost 50 councils have managed to spend nothing on these deals, it should be perfectly possible for those paying the most to do better and keep down the costs of individual golden goodbyes.'

Both Portsmouth and Hampshire council paid out less in 2018/19 compared to 2017/18. Portsmouth spent £254,663 on 10 settlements in 2017/18 and £108,269 on eight last year.

Hampshire spent £772,342.33 on 79 settlements in 2017/18 and £439,873.15 on 37 in 2018/19.

In 2018/19 the UK-wide average settlement value was £99,044, with an average number of six settlements per local authority.

The region with the highest number of settlements in 2018/19, with 381 agreed, was the south east which includes Hampshire.

A spokesman for Hampshire County Council confirmed most settlements were linked to redundancies. He said: 'I can confirm these settlement agreement figures were provided to the Taxpayers’ Alliance in July 2019 in response to a freedom of Information request, along with information that the settlements include payments in lieu of a notice period and redundancy payments.'

Over the three years Gosport Borough Council paid out £12,124.82 on just one settlement and Fareham Borough Council spent £411,225.95 on 19 agreements.

No figures were provided by Havant Borough Council and East Hampshire District Council.

Portsmouth City Council was approached for comment.