UK

Eric Pickles targets council pay 'double dippers'

Eric Pickles
Image caption Eric Pickles wants to stop council executives being re-employed while drawing large pensions

The government is to clamp down on council staff who retire with large pension pots then return to work with generous new pay deals.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles says he wants to open up "double dipping" to public scrutiny.

This involves local authority executives taking a lump sum payment for early retirement before returning to the same role, but as freelances.

Mr Pickles said new rules would force such deals to be discussed in public.

They would have to be decided upon in future at full council meetings, therefore opening them to voters' scrutiny, he said.

The practise of retiring yet returning to work is called "double dipping" because council officers effectively "dip twice" into the public purse.

Mr Pickles said: "The Localism Act opens up council pay rules, so the full force of transparency can expose the dubious practice of double dipping and shine the light on boomerang bosses and mega-pay packets over £100,000.

"Decisions like this should not be taken behind closed doors in smoke-filled rooms. Local authorities should scrutinise these practices at full council meetings and bring council pay back to earth as soon as possible.

"Any responsible, locally-elected councillor will want to use their pay vote to show taxpaying residents they mean business over some of the shoddy practices swirling around top Town Hall jobs."

The new Act comes into effect early next year.

The Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (Solace) said it had no comment to make on Mr Pickles' statements.