Lewisham Council’s ousted chief executive Ian Thomas got an £185,000 pay-off, months before the government announced plans to cap huge exit payments, it has been revealed.

Lewisham Council announced Mr Thomas was leaving last October, with his last day on December 31.

He started at the authority last March.

As well as the six figure pay-off, Mr Thomas was paid up until the end of January.

It is understood mayor Damien Egan, who was elected last May, found it difficult to work with Mr Thomas.

A Lewisham Council spokesperson said it was “regrettable that things did not work out between Lewisham Council and Ian Thomas.”

“As explained at the time, following constructive dialogue and with no negative reflection on Ian, he agreed to step down as chief executive. He moved on to be chief executive of Kingston Council and we wish him all the best in his new role,” they said.

The pay-off matched the skills and responsibility of being a council chief executive, they said.

This comes as the council makes £20.8m of cuts to services, following cuts in government funding.

“The exit payment…is commensurate with the responsibility of the CEO, which is a highly skilled and complex role,” they said.

“It bears ultimate responsibility for 8,000 staff including schools, a budget of £1.1bn and the smooth running of operations that deliver services to Lewisham’s population of 300,000.”

But Lewisham Lib Dems have raised concerns the post is still empty nearly seven months after Mr Thomas left the authority, and said the exit payment was a waste of money.

A spokesperson said: “Lewisham Council began recruiting for a new chief executive as part of its ‘new direction’ – nearly seven months after Ian Thomas left the post.

“At a time when money is tight, it’s ridiculous how much has been wasted on the Ian Thomas saga. The £185,000 exit payment comes on top of the costs of consultants for two rounds of recruitment and three months of gardening leave for Ian Thomas.

“This is an issue of basic competence and Mayor Egan has failed it. Even now, almost eight months on from announcing Ian Thomas’s departure, Lewisham still doesn’t have a permanent chief exec in post,” they said.

The government announced last month a cap of £95,000 will be introduced to stop huge exit payments when public sector workers leave their jobs.

Speaking about the draft regulations, chief secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss, said: “It is clearly wrong when people leave public sector roles with massive pay-offs.

“It incenses the public when they see their hard-earned money used badly like this.

“That’s why we are capping exit payments to stop unacceptably large pay-outs for senior managers,” she said.