Sheffield Council spends millions on hush money with staff

Sheffield Council has spent £2.5 million on gagging orders for staff who have left.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 25 April, 2019, 12:15
Sheffield Town Hall

A total of £2,518,340 has been spent on non-disclosure agreements, known as NDAs, over the past five years. There’s been a total of 187 since 2014.

NDAs peaked in 2015 when the council issued 50 at a cost of £715,529 in that one year alone.

The agreements are legal contracts which can be signed for several reasons.

The most common is when an employee has dealt with commercially sensitive information and they accept a financial settlement on the understanding they will not share the details within a certain time period.

The amount of money spent was revealed after the Liberal Democrats asked about NDAs in a written question.

Crookes and Crosspool councillor Mohammed Mahroof asked: “How many non-disclosure agreements have been entered into with council employees on departure during the last five years and what was the cost to the council?”

Coun Olivia Blake, deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said such agreements were often used to speed up an employee’s departure from their job.

“A settlement agreement, including a standard NDA clause, will often be used to expedite an agreed departure from an organisation where dismissal is likely, such as sickness, disciplinary or redundancy,” she said in a written reply to Coun Mahroof.

“They allow the employee and organisation to move on quicker than would be the case if a person was required to work notice etc. There is likely to be some correlation between these figures and the number of redundancies which are made and that is why there was a peak in 2013-2015.”

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Labour was unavailable to comment further.

The number of NDAs issued and amount spent on them is:

2014 – 58 – £616,796

2015 – 50 – £715,529

2016 – 29 – £499,863

2017 – 30 – £341,194

2018 – 20 – £344,958

By comparison, Nottinghamshire County Council paid for 54 NDAs over five years. The council there spent £617,822 between 2013 and 2017.

Westminster Council paid £1.56m over four years on 58 NDAs. And, over the past five years, the seven Coventry and Warwickshire councils spent £2.3m on NDAs.