More than 130 staff have been paid off by Lambeth Council since 2015, costing the local authority more than £1 million.  

Between 2015 and 2019, the council signed 138 settlement agreements, which involve ‘gagging’ or confidentiality orders. 

They are usually agreed when an employee has an issue with their employer or is facing redundancy.  

Under the agreement, which avoids the cost and hassle of going to court, the employee signs on the dotted line in return for a payoff. 

But they are often seen as controversial under the Public Interest Act as whistleblowers should be protected.

The settlements come with confidentiality clauses as standard, which means issues raised by employees about their workplace may never come to light. 

Since 2015, the council has paid more than £1 million to 138 employees, according to a Freedom of Information request.   

In 2015/16, £523,282 was handed over to 42 people, £143,171 was given to 48 employees in 2016/17, £252,368 was paid to 32 people in 2017/18 and £130,284 was paid to 16 employees in 2018/19.  

A spokesperson said Lambeth Council has been through a “period of deep budget cuts” since 2015 which included a “major” voluntary redundancy programme.  

“We have been through a period of deep budget cuts since 2010 meaning a significant reduction in the number of staff we employ.  

“This has included a major voluntary redundancy programme in 2015/16 to respond to these financial pressures.  

“Settlement agreements are part of this process and are needed in some cases to end someone’s employment to the satisfaction of all parties,” he said.