Wales politics

Concerns over ex-deputy commissioner's £27,000 compensation

Image copyright Media Wales
Image caption Sarah Stone received the payout after taking voluntary redundancy in March 2013

Concerns have been raised after the ex-deputy older people's commissioner for Wales received a total of £53,000 when she left the post.

Sarah Stone was given compensation of £27,000, plus £26,000 extra as a redundancy payout last year.

Conservatives said the money "would be better spent on frontline services", Liberal Democrats said ministers should clarify if they sanctioned the payment.

The commissioner's office said it was made following independent advice.

A spokesman said legal and human resources experts advised that this was the "most appropriate approach to manage any potential risks" involved in a restructuring process.

The changes were made after Sarah Rochira took over from Ruth Marks as commissioner in 2012.

The payments emerged in the commissioner's 2012-13 accounts, which said: "Sarah Stone left under Voluntary Redundancy terms on the 31 March 2013.

"She received a statutory compensation payment of £26k under the terms of the PCPCS (Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme) and an additional ex gratia payment of £27k."

The Older People's Commissioner for Wales is funded by the Welsh government and received £1.7m in the last financial year.

Shadow Minister for Older People Darren Millar said: "A substantial ex gratia payment like this would be better spent on frontline services and further improving standards of care.

"This payout will rightly be questioned by taxpayers and I remain unconvinced that it represents value for public money."

'Transparency'

Liberal Democrat AM Aled Roberts AM said there was "rightly a great of concern currently on ex gratia payments made to employees leaving their posts in the public sector".

"The Welsh Labour government should clarify whether it sanctioned this pay-out as a matter of urgency.

"As a member of the assembly's Public Accounts Committee, we are currently looking at the transparency of packages.

"This would include a requirement of all public bodies to disclose and justify such packages in future."

A spokesman for the commissioner's office said: "The payment was made following independent HR and legal advice that confirmed this was the most appropriate approach to manage any potential risks around the restructuring process.

"The commissioner undertook a restructure to ensure that the most effective internal roles and competencies were in place to deliver her statutory duties as well as to reduce the overall recurrent senior management cost base.

"The process was open and transparent and the payment was fully disclosed in the commissioner's annual accounts, which have been audited and are in the public domain."

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