The Bank of England paid departing staff almost £3m in “golden goodbyes” over 15 months, at the same time as an exodus of workers from its information security team.
Settlement payments to former staff surged to £2.3m in 2019, according to data provided to the Guardian under freedom of information laws. The Bank confirmed that former information security staff received some of the payments.
In 2020, former staff received £578,000 in the 10 weeks to 12 March, the date of the request for information. The payouts represented an increase in the rate recorded in 2018, when the Bank gave out £970,000.
The jump in payments in 2019 came at the same time as multiple senior staff left the Bank of England’s information security team – including a chief information security officer – shortly before an embarrassing security breach. At least 20 staff left the information security department amid low morale and budget cuts.
In December, a technology supplier to the Bank was reported to have sold access to a backup audio feed for press conferences given by former governor Mark Carney, potentially giving unidentified investors a lucrative headstart on interpreting his market-moving comments. The breach was missed by the Bank, and was only revealed after a newspaper investigation.
The Bank of England refused to reveal how many former staff received payments, or the size of the payments, saying it could lead to the revelation of their identities. It is understood that none of the payments were worth more than £250,000.
A Bank of England spokeswoman said: “The Bank, in common with other employers, occasionally uses settlement agreements for a number of reasons, but principally to set out with certainty the terms of an employee’s departure. These agreements can be used across all areas of the organisation.
“In 2019, only a few related to the restructure of the Bank’s information security function.”
The Bank’s response to the data request was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, which prompted the central bank to unleash economic stimulus measures worth hundreds of billions of pounds.