EX-BASINGSTOKE council employees have the highest average payout in the country, new data has revealed.

Figures obtained by the centre-right think-tank TaxPayers' Alliance show that between 2016 and 2019, ex-Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council staff had the highest average settlement in the country.

They paid out an average of £79,627.90 to each employee, including almost £300,000 in 2018-19.

The council say that termination payments are "in accordance with the council's adopted procedures and the law".

The TaxPayers' Alliance have blasted local authorities for their "golden goodbyes" - saying that it is tax payers who will end up funding them.

Darwin Friend, researcher, said: "Though settlement agreements are sometimes necessary, councils need to remember that it's ratepayers who foot the bill.

"These settlements have been signed at the same time that the vast majority of local authorities have increased council tax, meaning some have spent huge sums on hush money while hiking up local rates.

"Given that almost 50 councils have managed to spend nothing on these deals, it should be perfectly possible for those paying the most to do better and keep down the costs of individual golden goodbyes."

The Gazette previously reported on the so-called 'golden handshakes' - a clause which provides executive staff with a significant severance package, often with confidentially agreements included - between the borough council and two former employees, which accounted for over £200,000 of the 2018-19 figures.

These went to the council’s former head of law and governance - Bhupinder Gill - and its executive director of borough development and deputy chief executive, Victor Nicholls.

As part of him stepping down from the role in November 2018, the borough council agreed to pay termination costs of £121,615 to Mr Gill.

The council also agreed to pay termination costs to the value of £95,772 to Mr Nicholls, who left in December 2018.

Between 2016 and 2019, almost 7,000 agreements were agreed between local authorities and former employees, totalling at least £98 million.

The highest known settlement was over £195,000, made by Stoke-on-Trent city council.

Basingstoke and Deane also has a much higher figure than its neighbouring councils, with Hart spending just £57,023.64 and Test Valley £100,523.27.

However, data was not given for certain years from both councils.

Sarah Cragg, head of human resources and organisational development, said: "The council never comments on employment matters concerning individual employees.

"Termination payments are made in accordance with the council’s adopted procedures and the law."