MSPs want end to ‘hefty’ payouts to failed public sector bosses

Image caption MSPs on Holyrood’s audit committee voiced concerns about payouts to failed public sector bosses

MSPs have called for an end to “hefty” payouts to public sector leaders who leave after causing “major problems” in their organisations.

Holyrood’s public audit committee has raised concerns about payoffs with the finance secretary.

Members said severance payments to bosses in these circumstances were essentially “rewarding failure”.

Committee convener Jackie Baillie said it was “frustrating” that bosses were able to dodge being held to account.

The committee wrote to Derek Mackay after reports by the auditor general for Scotland highlighted various financial and governance concerns in public bodies.

The Scottish government is currently consulting on severance policy for the public sector.

‘Major problems’

MSPs said there were “some instances where individuals who may have been at least partly responsible for a performance issue at a public body were no longer in post” by the time they came to consider the public spending watchdog’s report.

They said the situation “raises questions about how they are recompensed” saying that “in the circumstances we have described, the award of an agreement should be very carefully considered by the body in question.”

Ms Baillie, who is acting convener of the committee while fellow Labour MSP Jenny Marra is on maternity leave, said: “We are concerned that some of those responsible for creating major problems within public bodies may be leaving without being held to account for the issues they may have caused.

“What’s worse is that some of these individuals could leave with a hefty pay-off in their pockets, which is essentially rewarding failure and is understandably frustrating for the Scottish public who pay for these public services.”

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A spokesman for the Scottish government said: “The Scottish public finance manual provides guidance on settlement agreements, severance, early retirement and redundancy, making clear that financial compensation should only be offered on a value-for-money basis with issues of propriety and regularity fully examined.”

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