Northumberland County Council paid £1.5m 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 £8.4m was shelled out in settlements with former employees since 2016.

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 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 68 agreements worth £991,458.10.

A council spokesman 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.”