Severence payouts for council chiefs attacked by government watchdog

Council chiefs found to be ‘under-performing’ are receiving huge payoffs, before moving to other councils, the local government watchdog has found.

But the commission said the main reason for the deals – which affected almost onethird of chief executives – was personal differences with elected council leaders rather than poor performance reports the BBC.

According to the report, compiled by the Audit Commission at the request of local government secretary John Denham, councils have paid on average £260,000 each to 37 chief executives since 2006 – one in six of whom subsequently moved to a similar job in a different region.

More than one in three council chiefs leaving their positions between 2007 and 2009 received compensation, writes the Guardian.

The Audit Commission reported six cases where paid off chief executives were re-hired in senior management roles within a year.

The commission also found that the average cost of paying off a chief executive was 1.8 times their annual basic salary, although in four cases it was more than three times the salary. One former chief executive received a £500,000 payment.

The Audit Commission recommended that councils publish the salaries of their top executives and details of severance packages.

Shadow local government secretary Bob Neill said: “There should be no rewards for failure, either in the public or the private sector.

“There needs to be clearer guidance discouraging such redundancy payments and greater transparency about the pay and perks of senior town hall staff.”

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