Excessive exit package costs and ‘fat cat’ salaries in Fife have been criticised by taxpayers’ groups after the council’s annual accounts were published.
Three Fife Council employees received so-called ‘exit packages’ totalling more than £1 million last year almost quarter the entire sum spent on terminating the employment of scores of workers.
Pressure groups have reacted angrily to figures contained in Fife Council’s annual accounts which reveal that of the £4.3m set aside for financial packages for 88 employees in 2014/15, a staggering £1.1m will go to just three individuals.
The identity of the trio has not been divulged by the local authority, despite a request by The Courier, but the amounts involved have been criticised by taxpayer groups given the fact that Fife is facing an estimated £77m shortfall over the next three years.
Although appreciating that councils will probably be contractually bound to pay these severances today, Eben Wilson, director at public spending watchdog Taxpayer Scotland, said Fife needed to learn lessons for future years.
“The lesson for taxpayers is that profligate spending must never be allowed to expand councils beyond what they can afford in a downturn,” he said.
“It’s time tough rules on all contingent liabilities accrued by councils in their staff plans were made fully transparent.”
Most of the 88 exit packages which include redundancy payments, compensatory lump sums, pension strain and added years’ costs fell in the £0 to £79,999 bracket, with 77 employees listed in that category.
Eight will receive between £80,000 to £199,999, while the remaining three found themselves in the £250,000 to £299,999 bracket.
Laura Robertson, Fife Council’s accounting team leader, said: “There are several elements to the exit package costs listed in the annual accounts.
“The cash cost to the council for these three packages is around £585,000, which includes the actual early retirement or redundancy payments to the staff and the money that the services have to contribute to the pension scheme.
“The individuals concerned all left the council because of restructures designed to reduce costs and generate savings in the future.”
The figures come after the TaxPayers’ Alliance published its ninth Town Hall Rich List, which highlighted the scale of local government executive pay deals across the UK.
The statistics showed that 15 Fife Council employees’ remuneration exceeded £100,000 in 2013/14, although the local authority’s annual accounts for 2014/15 reveal there are now just six in that situation.