PUBLIC sector severance payments, whether it be redundancy or early retirement, are a consequence of cuts.

Given that pay is a public body’s biggest expenditure, sadly making savings often means trimming the workforce.

It is misguided to believe that exit payments, per se, are wrong. Most staff are on low and middle incomes and the pay they receive is modest.

However, in recent years the circumstances of some of the deals enjoyed by senior staff - and the eye watering sums involved - have been highly questionable.

John Foley, the former chief executive of the Scottish Police Authority, did not distinguish himself in the job. As the Auditor General has remarked, poor decisions were made when he was in charge.

Nevertheless, Foley got an exit deal worth £100,000, part of which the Auditor General said was incurred “unnecessarily”.

This wasn’t Foley’s first early retirement deal paid for by public bodies. After leaving his post as managing director of City Building in 2012, he was given a package of over £160,000. His exit deals have cost nearly £270,000.

Against this backdrop, it is correct that the Scottish Government is consulting on plans to cap exit payments at £95,000.

However, the bigger challenge may be to stop the revolving door of well-paid executives receiving multiple deals over a number of years, a practice that does not pass the smell test.

In an era of austerity, asking an already squeezed public to foot super-sized pay-offs, is a step too far.