Northumberland County Council paid £1.5million in 'compromise agreements' to departing staff in the past four years, figures reveal.

Freedom of Information requests sent to the six councils in the North-East revealed that a total of £8.4m was shelled out in settlements with former employees since 2016, with Northumberland forking out £1.5m.

In 2016, Northumberland County Council signed two agreements with former employees at a cost of £9,893.93.

A year later, council bosses signed off on eight compromise agreements with payouts totalling £530,119.75.

In 2018, the council agreed four payments adding up to £60,536.11.

Last year, up until mid-December, it signed off on 68 agreements worth £991,458.10.

A spokesman for the council said the majority of the agreements related to voluntary redundancy.

He said: “Sometimes the county council uses settlement agreements which are entered into voluntarily by both the employee and the organisation.

“The county council uses such agreements where appropriate as they can offer a cost-effective way to mutually terminate the employment relationship between an employee and employer. In 2018/19 the majority of these agreements related to voluntary redundancies,."

Elsewhere in the region, Sunderland City Council paid out £5m in 306 settlements, Gateshead Council made 49 agreements totalling £685,000, Newcastle City Council paid out close to £380,000 in the course of 29 agreements, a total of £335,000 was paid out to staff leaving North Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Council signed 19 compromise agreements costing a total £285,000.