Top UK official ousted by Truss receives 457,000 pound payout

By David Milliken

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s government paid 457,000 pounds ($588,000) in compensation to Tom Scholar, who was the finance ministry’s top civil servant until he was ousted when Liz Truss became prime minister last year, new government accounts showed on Thursday.

Scholar left his job on Sept. 8, two days Truss after appointed Kwasi Kwarteng as finance minister following a Conservative Party leadership campaign in which she had blamed the finance ministry for slow economic growth.

At the time, Scholar said Kwarteng had “decided it was time for new leadership at the Treasury”.

Kwarteng presented a “mini budget” of tax cuts and energy subsidies to parliament on Sept. 23 that aimed to revive growth, but instead led to a slump in government bond prices, forcing the Bank of England to intervene and soon cost both Kwarteng and Truss their jobs.

Finance ministry accounts released on Thursday showed that Scholar – who was on an annual salary of just under 200,000 pounds – received more than 550,000 pounds in remuneration last year. Of that, 335,000 pounds was a severance payment for loss of office, while a further 122,000 pounds reflected compensation in lieu of notice and holiday entitlement.

Truss and Kwarteng were paid severance payments of 18,660 pounds and 16,876 pounds under separate legislation which grants ministers a payment of three months’ salary after they quit.

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson received a similar payment – as did Truss’ successor Rishi Sunak when he quit as finance minister in July 2022.

Sunak returned his payment, according to the Treasury. In May, the Sunday Times newspaper estimated that he and his wife Akshata Murty – whose father founded IT giant Infosys – had a joint fortune of more than 500 million pounds.

($1 = 0.7770 pounds)

(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Alex Richardson)