Bumper severance packages paid out to departing council bosses

St Helens town hall
St Helens town hall
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St Helens Council will pay out almost half a million pounds in severance packages for two of its departing bosses in 2018, council documents reveal.

The council’s Pay Policy Statement 2017-18 requires that severance packages in excess of £100,000 that include redundancy compensation and pension entitlements should be subject to referral to its Appointments Committee.

In March, a severance package worth £343,081 was signed off for Mike Wyatt, strategic director of people’s services.

Mr Wyatt, who has worked for the council for almost 30 years, will step down from his role next month following a restructure to allow for greater integration with St Helens CCG.

For his service, he will receive £72,808 in redundancy pay worked out at £2,600 per week for 28 weeks.

In addition, the council will contribute £270,272 towards Mr Wyatt’s pension.

A council spokesman said: “The amount quoted has two elements – one of redundancy payment which consists of the minimum statutory number of weeks’ pay without any additional enhancement, plus the capitalised costs which is paid directly into the pension fund.

“The employee does not receive this as it is paid to the pension fund.

“This payment has to be made, under the Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations.”

Mr Wyatt will be replaced by Professor Sarah O’Brien, who will also hold the role of Clinical Accountable Officer for St Helens CCG.

Council documents show that Mr Wyatt was invited to apply for the new, joint role, but asked not to be considered for the new post.

Ian Roberts, deputy chief executive and strategic director of corporate services, will also leave the council next month after 41 years.

He will be paid a severance package worth £108,094.

Mr Roberts will receive £66,165 in redundancy pay, worked out at £2,242 per week for 29.5 weeks.

The council will also contribute £41,929 to Mr Roberts’ pension.

His redundancy comes following a review by chief executive Mike Palin into the council’s corporate structure.

A decision was taken to drop the position of deputy chief executive, which is a “significant and fundamental” variation to the post holder’s contract in terms of salary and status, a council report said.

Cath Fogarty, the council’s former head of finance, was announced on Wednesday as Mr Roberts’ replacement.

Both Mr Wyatt and Mr Roberts will officially leave the council on June 1.

A council spokesman said: “As a result of a senior officer restructure and the closer integration of the council’s people’s services directorate and the CCG, considerable savings have been made.”

Cllr Barrie Grunewald, who was leader of the council at the time, and relevant officers signed off the delegated council decisions relating to the two severance packages in March.

The funds were taken out of the 2017-18 budget.

The council delegated the matter to the Appointments Committee, which noted the decisions at its last meeting in April.

Kenny Lomas , Local Democracy Reporting Service