What was a £30,507.67 ex-gratia payment made by Wirral Council for?
Each month Wirral Council publishes a monthly list of all payments over £500 made to suppliers and agencies and a particular entry from January 2015 caught my eye.
A £30,507.56 payment was made on the 30th January 2015 to a firm of solicitors called Jackson & Canter. So what you might say, doesn’t Wirral Council seek legal advice quite often?
It was the description of the payment that caught my eye as it was down as “Ex-Gratia Payments”. So what is an ex-gratia payment? Well it’s probably a voluntary payment to a former employee, by Wirral Council without Wirral Council admitting liability.
Back in April 2012 councillors agreed that “all Compromise Contracts except those to settle litigation and those requiring a payment of £30,000 or less” would be decided by councillors instead of officers. In addition to this a report on compromise contracts agreed was supposed to be brought to each meeting of the Employment and Appointments Committee.
The compromise contracts for both David Garry and Bill Norman happened in this way with councillors making the final decision on them.
The whole definition of a ex-gratia payment is that there’s no legal obligation to make it. This notice of motion agreed by Council shows when the change was made.
So, what’s this payment of £30,507.56 for (and let’s hope it’s not to pay someone to keep quiet about something)? Should councillors have agreed to it? Have constitutional changes made to Wirral Council’s constitution since 2012 meant that what was agreed by politicians 2012 is no longer the case and officers have the final say on such matters (if so when did that change get made and does it overrule what Council agreed)? If the payment was made to a senior officer (or a former senior officer) is there a public interest in the public knowing who it was made to?
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