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Revealed: How much Redbridge Council spent on settlement agreements to former employees last year

PUBLISHED: 12:09 19 February 2020

Redbridge Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears

Redbridge Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears

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The TaxPayers’ Alliance has revealed how much Redbridge Council has spent on reaching settlement agreements with ex-employees in the last four years.

Settlement agreements are nearly always payments from an employer to a former employee, paid in order to settle a dispute.

It means the dispute between the two parties could not be resolved as part of internal procedures, and it can prevent future related claims.

The region with the highest number of settlements between 2016/17 and 2018/19 was London, where councils reached 1,089 settlements worth more than £17million.

In Redbridge, the council has agreed 31 settlements since 2016, costing £685,629.

Sixteen settlements were agreed in 2016/17, totalling £286,008, 10 in 2017/18, costing £189,305, and five in 2018/19, totalling £210,316.

The average settlement amount for Redbridge ex-employees was £22,117.

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A Redbridge Council spokesman said: "It's important to stress that settlement agreements are only reached in exceptional circumstances, often to help the council deliver vital efficiency savings through organisational restructures, and in some cases, to settle disputes.

"However, payments are made in accordance with what people are entitled to. Settlement payments also protect the council from legal claims."

From 2016-17 to 2018-19, councils in the UK agreed at least 6,980 settlement agreements, worth more than £98m.

The individual local authority with the highest average payment of £79,628 was by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

In contrast, there were 45 local authorities who reported no spend on settlement agreements at all, which included relatively highly populated councils in cities such as Belfast, Liverpool and Oxford.

Darwin Friend, researcher at the TaxPayers' Alliance, 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."

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