Sturgeon concerned about public sector severance payouts

Nicola Sturgeon has expressed concern over bumper payouts for individuals leaving public sector organisations amid controversy, saying it creates the perception of rewarding failure.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Jane Barlow/PA Wire

The First Minister said it was “vital” to look at the decision making behind highly paid departures from the public sector when she was questioned by committee conveners at Holyrood.

The subject of big payouts was raised by Labour’s Jackie Baillie, convener of the public audit committee.

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Ms Baillie said there had been “repeated problems” with governance and financial management of public bodies, citing colleges and the Scottish Police Authority.

She asked Ms Sturgeon if paying “substantial sums” to leavers could be seen as rewarding failure.

The First Minister agreed saying: “Yes I do agree that in some circumstances – and obviously I am talking generically here not in relation to any particular example – but in circumstances where someone is leaving an organisation where there has been controversy and there is a severance payment where those severance payments are perceived to be large that can be perceived as – it doesn’t always mean that it is the case – but it can be seen to be rewarding failure.

We don’t want that perception and we don’t want that reality in our public sector.

“There are rules in place that govern severance arrangements. We are reviewing that area just now and there some very important tests that have to be applied – public confidence is one of those, value for money and reasonableness are others.

“It is vital we run through decision making and go into some of the issues that your committee has looked at. There have been some instances that the Government has expressed its own disquiet at some of these arrangements.”