UK

Deny severance payouts to rule-breaking ministers – Lib Dems

Lib Dem proposals would prevent MPs who have resigned for breaking the ministerial code from claiming severance pay (Sean Dempsey/PA)
Lib Dem proposals would prevent MPs who have resigned for breaking the ministerial code from claiming severance pay (Sean Dempsey/PA) Lib Dem proposals would prevent MPs who have resigned for breaking the ministerial code from claiming severance pay (Sean Dempsey/PA)

Ministers sacked from their jobs for rule-breaking would be denied severance pay under Liberal Democrat proposals.

The party is set to call for “taxpayer-funded handouts” to “disgraced” former members of government to be scrapped as it enters the third day of annual conference.

Some £530,000 was received in ministerial severance during the last year of political upheaval, according to party analysis of Treasury data.

Ministers are entitled to receive severance payments worth a quarter of their salary on leaving office, provided they are aged under 65 and are not reappointed within three weeks.

Some who received payments last year returned to government within months.

These include Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, who received £16,876 when Liz Truss replaced him as transport secretary at the beginning of September 2022. He returned as home secretary a month later.

He is reported to have given half of his payment to charity.

In a speech to conference, Lib Dem chief whip Wendy Chamberlain will call for a major overall of the payment system.

The proposals would prevent MPs who have resigned for breaking the ministerial code from claiming severance pay.

Ministers would have to serve in post for “a reasonable period of time” and payouts could not be claimed if they are reappointed to government, the party said.

Ms Chamberlain said: “It’s an outrage that while families struggle to pay their bills, Liz Truss, Boris Johnson and other disgraced Conservative ministers have profited from their own failure.

“The cost of Conservative chaos is piling up for families across the country. The British public will never forgive this shambolic Conservative government.

“Conservative ministers crashed the economy and then were rewarded for it. It is time to change the rules over ministerial severance pay for good to end these revolving door payouts – enough is enough.”

Former prime ministers Boris Johnson and Ms Truss both received £18,660 after resigning while Kwasi Kwarteng was given £16,876 when he quit as chancellor after less than six weeks in the job, according to figures released from Government departments.

Among the other ministers to receive severance payments was Chris Pincher, who resigned as deputy chief whip over allegations he groped two men in the Carlton Club, precipitating the crisis that saw Mr Johnson leave office.

Mr Pincher received a £7,920 severance payment after stepping down at the end of June 2022.

Michael Gove also received £16,876 when he was sacked by Mr Johnson as levelling up secretary, a role he has returned to under Rishi Sunak.

A Government spokesperson said: “There are long-standing rules in place to determine what ministers are entitled to receive as severance pay. Under those rules, it is for ministers to decide whether they wish to accept it.”