A Liberal Democrat politician is in The Sun today…

… isn’t often a sentence that ends happily (they don’t seem to really like us over there, you know), except of course when it was praise for Ming Campbell’s use of Facebook (which, slightly bizarrely twice triggered the most positive words about Ming that The Sun published during his time as leader).

Today though brings another exception. Step forward Lord Oakeshott:

NOT a phrase often heard, but “well done to the Lib Dems” for asking the awkward question about how much civil servants have been paid in redundancies – a mere £500 million as it turns out. So hats off to Lib Dem treasury spokesman Lord Oakeshott – a vociferous critic of MPs’ huge pensions.

There more on the story in most newspapers today, including The Times:

What do you give man in charge of Whitehall cuts? A £600,000 payoff
A top Treasury mandarin in charge of finding efficiency savings across Whitehall has walked off with a £600,000 payoff, it emerged last night.

John Oughton, the former head of the Office of Government Commerce, managed to negotiate a £612,000 package when he left the Treasury last April after deciding not to renew a three-year contract. The payment is part of a £432 million redundancy pot shared by 7,718 Whitehall officials who left their posts in the past three years. The average payout was about £60,000, after a drive to make £20 billion in efficiency savings…

Lord Oakeshott said: “The Government has thrown half a billion pounds in taxpayers’ cash to pay them not to work. Two treasury bigwigs really hit the jackpot, splitting over a million pounds between them. Did 67 senior managers at the Treasury really deserve golden goodbyes averaging over £220,000 each, on top of their generous pensions?” …

“The Home Office and MoD are totally incompetent for failing to give answers, when other big departments can give us these vital figures. No wonder the Home Office loses track of who to deport if it can’t even count its own redundancies,” he said.

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  • It is quite possible that paying these people to go was a good bargain for the public purse. But to spend half a billion and not be able to demonstrate some benefits from the money is a scandal.

    The point that smells worst in this is Defence and the Home Office do not know how much they have spent. This is basic, simple accounting. It suggests that any accounts that these Departments are producing covering their own staff and direct operations are useless. I trust that Lord Oakeshott will report them to the new Head of the National Audit Office.

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