Lewis accused of hypocrisy over scale of civil service pay-offs

It looks like those appointed to run the department in charge of local government were required to have an in-built dislike for it. Just like Eric Pickles, Brandon Lewis seems to suffer from the disease ‘hypocrisis foot in mouthicus’. Either that or, like Pickles, he’s just a nasty piece of work.

Copied from Local Government Chronicle online
10 January 2013 | By Keith Cooper

Local government minister Brandon Lewis has come under fire for criticising senior council officer pay-offs – despite figures showing that more than 100 civil servants have walked away from his department and its agencies with golden goodbyes exceeding £100,000.

More than 150 civil servants have received ‘exit packages’ of more than £100,000 over the past two years, while 12 received pay-offs of more than £200,000, according to figures in the Department for Communities & Local Government’s most recent annual report.

Fifty-five civil servants received exit packages of more than £100,000 in 2011-12, of which just two were compulsory. This compares with 103 in 2010-11.

Four staff last year received payments of more than £200,000 compared with eight the year before.

Mr Lewis last month told the Daily Telegraph that the “eye-watering” compensation packages paid by councils demonstrated “a lack of respect for the public purse”.

The story mentioned a number of councils that had made payments that Mr Lewis said would “make a Premiership manager blush”.

The leaders of some of those councils said Mr Lewis had shown a lack of respect and a failure to understand how pay deals work.

The figures from his own department have prompted a further backlash from council leaders, with some from his own party accusing him of hypocrisy.

Peter Jones (Con), leader of East Sussex CC, described Mr Lewis’ comments as “a touch of the pot calling the kettle black”.

Mary Orton, honorary secretary of Alace, said: “Everyone in local government has a contract of employment and it is absolutely essential that local government employers respect them.

“The minister would do well to pay attention to the reality of the situation than whatever sounds like a good soundbite.”

A DCLG spokeswoman said the minister was referring to “boomerang bosses who take pay-offs and go to work in another part of the public sector”.

When questioned on DCLG exit packages, she said: “The level of redundancy payment is set in law rather than contract.”

Angus Campbell (Con), leader of Dorset CC, said he would “not dream” of copying Mr Lewis’ accusation. “Clearly the facts of the case in Dorset were not understood and therefore, no doubt, those concerning other local suthorities in the same article were also misrepresented. This unwarranted criticism is a true example of ‘lack of respect’”.

Dorset was accused of having agreed £1.03m in pay-offs to seven senior staff. The actual redundancy payment was £333,107, according to the council. A further £485,733 was paid by the council to their pension funds- a requirement of the scheme’s rules.

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