The amount of money paid to staff leaving Lewisham Council more than doubled in the last year compared to 2018/19, according to its statement of accounts.

The figures come after a large staff restructure earlier in the year, which included cuts to senior management roles. 

See more: Lewisham Council boss cuts published

In total the council paid out £2.223 million to 119 staff in 2019/20, compared to £925,000 to 54 staff in 2018/19.

The 2018/19 packages included a controversial £185,000 payment to the outgoing chief executive Ian Thomas.

In 2019/20, the figures show that 90 members of staff were paid under £20,000, 20 between £20,001 and £40,000, four between £40,001 and £60,000, three between £60,001 and £80,000, one between £80,001 and £100,000, and one over £100,001.

News Shopper:

The council is set to investigate the increase following a prompt from the vice chair of the public accounts committee, Cllr Alan Hall, at a meeting of full council on Wednesday (November 25).

Cllr Hall noted that the accounts going before council for approval were “slightly different” to the draft accounts the audit panel saw.

“The differences will include the £7.062 million adjustments following the Court of Appeals decision against Kingston Council for overcharging tenants for their water supplies, [and] the downward adjustment [in the wake of Covid] for the group accounts for Lewisham Homes and the Catford regeneration partnership,” he said.

The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal from Kingston Council after it was ruled to have overcharged tenants when supplying water, leaving the authority liable to pay out millions in compensation.

Lewisham set aside more than £7 million after the decision in anticipation of any pay-outs it might have to make.

With regard to the exit packages given to staff leaving, Cllr Hall said the difference was “an increase from 104 packages to 119 people”.

“That equates to an increase from £1.516 million to £2.223 million, which also represents an increase on last year’s exit packages, which were quite substantial.

“My question is will the cabinet member and chair of the audit panel ensure that a report is made to the next audit panel so that we can examine any changes since we met last,” he said.

The cabinet member for finance, Cllr Amanda DeRyk, said she would be “very happy” to “endorse a report coming to the audit panel in terms of the exit packages”.

“Obviously when people have done many years of service at the council and leave then it is appropriate that we pay them accordingly, but I agree with you it would be good to investigate the increase,” she said.

The exit packages include redundancy payments and extra costs for people who were granted access to their pensions early.

The statement of accounts was approved unanimously.