A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Cornwall Council spent more than £260,000 on “gagging clauses” for employees leaving the authority. The report also reveals that a whopping £25 million has been spent by the council in redundancy payments since 2011.
Between 2017 and 2018 alone, the council signed confidentiality clauses at a cost of £261,606.90 in severance deals of 17 staff, each receiving an average of £15,389.
These figures show a significant reduction from the 2016/17 financial year when the council had gagging deals with 30 staff at a cost of £440,719.33.
The FOI request also asked whether any of the severance payments were made to staff who had either made a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual assault or charged with such a complaint.
None of the payments had related to such incidents, the council revealed.
On why it used the confidentiality clause, the council said settlement agreements can be a cost-effective way of resolving complex employment issues.
“Settlement agreements can be a cost-effective way of resolving complex employment issues…From time to time the council enters into these to protect its interests as an employer and as a provider of public services…Value for money for residents is always a key consideration in reaching such agreements” – the council explained in a statement.
A separate FOI request shows the Cornwall Council has made 1,775 staff redundant and paid out £25,436,517 in redundancy payments since 2011. 102 staff were made redundant and paid a total of £1,553,819 between April 2017 and April 2018.