£2.1m Spent By Labour-run Council In Paying Staff Off With Confidentiality Clauses

02/12/2019

Labour-run Caerphilly Council has forked out more than £2.1m of public money over the last five years as part of confidentiality agreements with departing staff.

A Freedom of Information request by Plaid Cymru has also revealed that out of the 32 employees that signed confidentiality clauses/non disclosure agreements in 2018-19 nine were under disciplinary investigation and 21 were on sick leave.

The response from Caerphilly council reveals that no councillors are involved in signing off non-disclosure agreements.

Pay-offs and legal costs in each of the last two financial years topped £500,000 – a big rise from the £362,175 in 2014-15.

Caerphilly Council refused under the Freedom of Information Act to supply a blank copy of the non-disclosure agreement, citing legal reasons. An appeal against this decision has been lodged with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Councillor Lindsay Whittle, Plaid Cymru UK General Election Candidate for Caerphilly, said: “People in Caerphilly county will be surprised at the high level of pay-offs to departing staff. Also, many of those signing non-disclosure agreements were either under disciplinary investigation and others on the sick.

“You have to wonder why those under investigation or away from work ill are being asked to sign these agreements. Is it a way of keeping them quiet about what is happening within the council?”

Councillor Colin Mann, leader of the opposition Plaid Cymru group on Caerphilly council, said: “There is a need for a review about the operation of these agreements by the authority because of the large amount of public money involved which has risen rapidly over the past five years.

“Should, for instance, officers solely be involved in signing off agreements without any input from senior councillors? In my view there is need for greater transparency in the use of these agreements.”