Walsall Council spends £430,000 on staff settlements in three years
Cash-strapped Walsall Council forked out more than £430,000 to settle claims with 30 former staff in just three years, it has been revealed.
Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request have shown the sum the authority forked out between 2015 and 2018 for "compromise agreements".
Companies and public sector organisations often go down the route of the private settlements – dubbed "gagging agreements" by critics – to prevent any future claims and tribunals being taken out against them.
A spokesman for the council said the confidential nature of the settlements meant they could not discuss individual cases but added the authority only considered entering into compromise agreements as a “last resort”.
The total cost of settling the 30 cases in the three years amounted to £434,571.16.
In 2015/16, the council settled with nine employees at a total cost of £201,1040.03. The highest individual payment was £58,603 with the lowest case being settled for £1,651.61.
During 2016/17, eight compromise agreements were entered into and cost the authority a total of £157,791.78.
The largest cash settlement to one former employee was £40,095.36 although one case was concluded with no cash exchanging hands.
Despite the most amount of settlements being reached in 2017/18 with 13 cases, the least amount of money was spent out of the three years, with the council paying out £75,675.35.
The highest of these was 15,760.80 while the smallest amount paid out was £518.
A Walsall Council spokesman said: “It is not uncommon for organisations, including public sector organisations, to enter into such agreements.
“Whilst we are not able or willing to discuss any individual case they are only considered as a last resort.
“In all cases we are mindful of our obligations as both an employer and as a steward of public resources when considering if it is appropriate to enter into any agreement.”
By Gurdip Thandi, Local Democracy Reporter