LONDON (Bywire News) - In a political landscape that has been nothing short of tumultuous since 2019, the Conservative administration has seemingly found a high-cost way to reward its own inefficiency. This has involved them paying out over £1 million in severance payments to a parade of transient ministers. These facts have been highlighted in a meticulous investigation conducted by Byline Times - a sharp exposé of the financial toll political instability has wrought. Intriguingly, some of these fleeting ministers have walked away with farewell figures that were as much as seven times their actual reported salaries - a somewhat generous reward for their varying degrees of competency and time on the job.
One of the more notable beneficiaries of this severance bonanza is Kwasi Kwarteng, who held the role of Chancellor for a paltry 38 days. Despite his brief stay in the Treasury hot seat, he was able to secure a severance payment of £16,876 in contrast to his salary of just £2,359. How's that for a short-time gig bonus?
Byline Times' scrutiny of the annual accounts of 18 government ministries has shone a revealing light on the immense financial implications of this ministerial carousel. The number of changes to Cabinet positions since the beginning of 2019 has been estimated at 96 - a startling figure that underscores the inherent instability within the current Conservative administration.
The constant flux at the political frontline continues to raise alarm. Particularly affected are civil servants and industry bodies, who bemoan the merry-go-round of ministerial appointments and question the feasibility of carrying out well-planned policies or a smooth knowledge transfer amidst such a tornado of turmoil. These anxieties have been further fuelled by the fact that ministers have entitlement to a severance pay of 25% of their annual ministerial salary upon their departure from their role – this remains the case regardless of their time in the office.
Even in a conservative estimate, the total severance figure of £1.1 million seems likely to be an underestimate. This arises from the fact that several government departments had not yet published their annual accounts for 2022-2023 at the time when Byline Times carried out their analysis. If these accounts follow current trends, the projected overall cost would likely sit closer to £1.5 million.
The implications of these departure payments extend beyond just the ministerial ranks. The £1.1 million figure does not account for the severance payments made to advisors or Special Advisors (SPADs). These added costs to the taxpayer only add fuel to the burning question: how sustainable is this government's approach to severance?
The chorus of critics has continued to grow louder in the face of these revelations. Highlighting the stark contrast between the fortunes of failing ministers and struggling families during these testing economic times, Liberal Democrat Cabinet Office spokesperson, Christine Jardine, called the situation "staggering". She voiced the indignation of many taxpayers, calling it "insulting" to see so many Conservative ministers walking away from their posts with pockets full of public money after just a brief tenure.
As the political landscape navigates this precarious path, these findings by Byline Times pose an uncomfortable question: Is political ineptitude only further lining the pockets of those directly responsible for the chaos? Lips will undoubtedly remain pursed in response.
(By Michael O'Sullivan)