Former ministers paid half a million in severance over past year

Liz Truss
Liz Truss - Dominic Lipinski/PA

Ex-ministers have received more than half a million pounds in severance pay over the past year, new research has revealed.

The Department for Levelling Up paid out the most to former employees in severance of any Whitehall department, at more than £77,000 since 2022.

Ministers leaving the Home Office over the last year received £52,858, and the Department for Education handed out £49,495 in the same period in severance.

It comes as the Liberal Democrats, who conducted the research, call for the rules on severance pay to be changed to prevent disgraced MPs from being able to claim.

Chris Pincher, who resigned from Government after he was accused of drunkenly groping two men, received £7,920 as a so-called golden goodbye.

Chris Pincher
Chris Pincher - UK Parliament/PA

Wendy Chamberlain, Lib Dem whip, will today/MONDAY call for a major overhaul of the system, which would also see ministers having to serve in post for a “reasonable period” before being able to receive severance.

Liz Truss, who served as prime minister for 49 days, received £18,860 in severance, the same amount that Boris Johnson was awarded when he left office.

Her chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, was paid £16,876 after just 38 days in office.

Ms Chamberlain described these golden goodbyes as “an outrage”.

“The cost of Conservative chaos is piling up for families across the country.

“The British public will never forgive this shambolic Conservative government.”

“Conservative ministers crashed the economy and then were rewarded for it. It is time to change the rules over ministerial severance pay for good to end these revolving door payouts - enough is enough.”

She will announce the new proposals on the third day of the Liberal Democrat autumn conference, taking place in Bournemouth.

Wendy Chamberlain
Wendy Chamberlain - Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

The new proposals would also demand that payouts could not be claimed if they are reappointed to Government within a year.

Under current rules, ministers can claim severance pay of up to almost £17,000, and prime ministers up to £18,660, regardless of the reason for departure and length of time in post.

Whitehall departments gave out £530,000 in taxpayer-funded ministerial severance payments in the last year.

The Cabinet Office paid £75,585 in ministerial severance in the last year, and the Treasury gave out £45,000.

A Government spokesman said: “There are long-standing rules in place to determine what ministers are entitled to receive as severance pay. Under those rules, it is for ministers to decide whether they wish to accept it.”

A Conservative Party spokesman said of the proposals: “This is exactly the kind of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ policy that the nation expects from the Lib Dems.

“Severance payments have been made by successive administrations over several decades – including at the end of the Coalition Government in 2015.

“If their ministers were happy to accept payments then, they should pay them back to British taxpayer before attempting to score political points.”