23 April 2007 | Paul Snell
The government has spent nearly £1 billion on exit packages for civil servants since 1997, according to figures released last week.
More than half of this sum has been spent in the last three years, as government departments aim to reduce civil service headcounts as part of the Gershon review.
The review outlined a reduction of more than 70,000 civil service posts by 2008. Since 2005 the government has spent £564 million on redundancy compensation, pension lump sums and other voluntary exit schemes.
The Department of Work and Pensions paid out the most, spending £339 million in the past three years. But this dwarfs the next highest amount spent by the Department of Constitutional Affairs, which spent £51.2 million in the same period.
The figures were obtained through Parliamentary questions from Conservative MP Justine Greening. She told SM: "This is a massive amount of taxpayers' money to be spending on voluntary redundancy. I've no doubt many people facing redundancy in the private sector will look with envy at this level of pay-off. First we have the boom in public finances and now we're seeing the bust."