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Hertfordshire County council hands £30m to departing officials
Generous golden handshakes - including one of almost £300,000 - totalling more than £30 million have been given to departing county council officials over the past two years.
The payments were handed to 2,291 Hertfordshire Country Council employees who have had their contracts terminated through redundancy or retirement in 2010/11 and 2011/12.
The county council will not disclose the names of those who received the payments but the largest single payment was £294,186 which was agreed in financial year 2010/11 - the same year as former chief executive Caroline Tapster agreed early retirement from her £250,000 a year post.
The former chief executive’s remuneration package came under criticism after it emerged she had become one of the county council’s best paid civil servants at a time when the council’s Audit Commission ratings fell from four stars to three in 2007.
Since her departure, former deputy chief exec and director of environmental and commercial services John Wood has taken on a merged role with a salary including pension contributions of £200,000.
The figures, revealed in the council’s annual statement of accounts, are in addition to any pension entitlement and also show a further three officers took home a share of a £561,620 fund in the last financial year.
Another prominent departure is John Harris, former director of children, schools and families who received £36,416 compensation after his £131,903 role was scrapped in September 2011.
The department to suffer the greatest losses is children’s services where 519 staff members have left while the health and community services department has seen 313 officers leave.
David Lloyd, cabinet member for resources and performance, said: "The reduction in staff numbers is saving us £1million a month on our pay bill.
"Hertfordshire County Council does not have a policy of enhancing exit packages for top officers.
"All employees whose role is considered for redundancy or eligible for retirement receive statutory payments in both cases based on their age, length of service and weekly pay regardless of their role.
"In some exceptional cases, an employee may also receive a payment in lieu of notice when approved by senior staff.
"The council administer a statutory Local Government Pension Scheme for all staff who opt into the scheme. Employees make regular contributions based on their current salary and these are supplemented by Hertfordshire County Council based on national guidelines.
"Since 2007, our most senior management team has been reviewed a number of times. The most recent changes took effect on 1 June, taking the total savings for this period to over £700K.
"Senior officers’ salaries as well as our redundancy and pension policies are publicly available in the Open Data section on our website, www.hertsdirect.org"